Kobe Bryant's helicopter was reportedly signaling distress before it crashed on Sunday morning. Bryant and three passengers were flying over southern California when their aircraft crashed just before 10 a.m. PT. According to a report by ABC News, the helicopter was visibly "in distress" before it went down.
Bryant, the other passengers and the pilot all passed away in the tragic accident on Sunday morning. So far, there is no word on whether the pilot alerted air traffic controllers of their danger over radio. However, Los Angeles County Fire Captain Tony Imbrenda said that there were witnesses mountain biking in the area who could tell that the helicopter was troubled just by looking.
The passersby said that the helicopter was in distress as before it crashed in Calabasas, California. It landed away from any homes or roadways, but in the midst of dry brush, so it caused a fire upon impact.
A spokesman for the FAA, Allen Kenitzer, told The L.A. Times that the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash. The outlet reported that it left from Orange County, the area where Bryant lived, and was headed towards his Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks, California.
The Times spoke to other witnesses as well, including Jerry Kocharian, who said that he was standing just outside of Church In the Canyon, a Presbyterian church in the area when he saw the helicopter fall.
"It [didn't] sound right and it was real low. I saw it falling and spluttering. But it was hard to make out as It was so foggy," he said. "There was a big fireball. No one could survive that."
There is still no word on who was flying the helicopter, however, it has been confirmed that Bryant was traveling with his daughter, 13-year-old Gianna. They were flying to Gianna's youth basketball game at the Mamba Academy at the time of the crash. The identities of the other passengers have not been confirmed.
The Times also reported that this particular helicopter was built in 1991, and was registered to a company called Island Express Holding Corp. based in Fillmore. The aircraft had no record of prior incidents according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
Bryant was widely mourned on Sunday as fans were hit with the news of his passing. The 41-year-old was a legend — not just in the world of sports but in pop culture as a whole. He was honored with moments of silence at other sporting events throughout the afternoon, and many expect to see a tribute to his legacy at the Grammy Awards on Sunday night, which will be held at the STAPLES Center where he played so many infamous games.