The helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others has been ruled an accident. The coroner made the announcement as investigators continue to identify all nine victims. Bryant has been officially identified but his 13-year old daughter, Gianna, is one of the five that are still haven't been officially identified by the coroner. All nine bodies have been recovered from the crash site.
"On Sunday afternoon, personnel from the department's Special Operations Response Team (SORT) recovered three bodies from the helicopter wreckage located in the 4200 block of Las Virgenes Road in Calabasas," the release said. "The next day, the search continued for the other six helicopter occupants. Soon after, their bodies were located, removed from the crash site and transported to the department's Forensic Science Center."
"This was totally avoidable, and on the part of some people I can go as far as to say irresponsible," Robert Ditchey, a longtime airplane pilot, aeronautical engineer and former airline executive, said to USA Today. "Here's one of the most important people in the world who comes to a tragic end like this and you say, 'Why? What the hell happened?'"
"They're in the fog, and you're down hugging the ground trying to fly up the highway and barely able to see it," Ditchey continued. "He's down only 100 feet or so above the ground. In that area of the San Fernando Valley you have mountains on either side of you … and the clouds have obscured them, and you don't have that much room to maneuver."
Investigators released the pilot's final message to air traffic control earlier this week. The pilot requested and received permission to fly in the heavy fog just minutes before the crash. The helicopter was at 1,400 feet when it went south and then west. The pilot then asked for "flight following" radar but air traffic control told him that they couldn't track him because the helicopter was too low.
The helicopter crashed minutes later and 911 was called by someone on the ground. There was heavy fog at the time of the crash but it was reported the helicopter was flying under "Special Visual Flight Rules" which means the helicopter can fly in severe weather conditions.