Since the news of the death of Kobe Bryant along with numerous others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday morning, people have swarmed the site as a way of paying their respects. As a result, the L.A. County Sheriffs have increased their presence in the area in the name of public safety. Their official Twitter account also released a message calling for people to be "respectful of others" in the area.
As crowds continue to gather in #Calabasas in honor of lives lost, be aware that #LASD Sheriffs have increased presence in the immediate & surrounding areas of the helicopter crash site & community for the protection & preservation of life & property.
Be respectful of others. pic.twitter.com/6F6dRJtyxE— LA County Sheriffs (@LASDHQ) January 27, 2020
Along with the 41-year-old NBA star, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, was among the victims. They were among the total of nine victims lost to the crash, who have all been identified as of this morning, including the helicopter's pilot, Ara Zoboyan.
The cause is still currently under investigation, but the helicopter was reportedly flying irregularly prior to the crash. Newly released audio from LiveATC.net indicates that the helicopter was granted "special clearance to fly at or below 2,500 feet in dangerous weather conditions."
Zobayan could be heard in the audio discussing special flight plans with air traffic controllers at Burbank Airport. Those plans gave the pilot's craft special visual flight rules, or SVFR, which allows permission to fly in weather conditions that are worse than those usually allowed by air traffic controllers. They're issued only when the cloud ceiling is below 1,000 feet, as was the case yesterday morning.
However, flying so close to the ground can be disorienting to a pilot, particularly if they're relying more on their eyesight than their instrument panels, which may have been the case with Zobayan. The helicopter circled over Burbank for about 15 minutes, partially at the request of air traffic controllers. After 11 minutes, they were cleared to enter Burbank's air space. Worth noting that the audio was also notably absent any distress calls.
ESPN also announced earlier today it would rebroadcast Bryant's final NBA game at 9 p.m. ET. The previously-scheduled matchup between Oklahoma State and Kansas will be moved to ESPN2 in order to make room for the tribute.