Frantic 911 callers reported Bryant’s helicopter crash

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Fans gathered outside of the Staples Center on Jan. 26 to mourn the death of Kobe Bryant after news spread of the helicopter crash that killed the NBA legend, his daughter Gianna and seven others.
MARCUS YAM/LOS ANGELES TIMES/TNS

BY RICHARD WINTON LOS ANGELES TIMES/TNS

LOS ANGELESAs investigators continue to probe the cause of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others, authorities have made public a series of 911 calls fielded by emergency operators on that foggy Sunday morning.

“I am walking on the trail. I could hear the plane. I think it was in the clouds, but I couldn’t see it then. We just heard a boom and a dead sound, and then I could see the flames,” said a man on a nearby hiking trail in Calabasas.

A second caller said, “A helicopter crashed into a mountain. We heard it. And now I’m looking at the flames.”

A third caller: “It went over my head. It’s thick in clouds. And then I heard a pop, and it immediately stopped. If this guy doesn’t have night vision, he is completely IFR (instrument flight rules).”

Two of the callers noted the foggy conditions at the time of the crash, which is one of the subjects of the investigation.

The recordings come as the National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate the cause of the crash. The agency is expected to release preliminary findings in the coming days.

Jennifer Homendy, an NTSB investigator, said the helicopter was at 2,300 feet when it lost communication with air traffic controllers. The helicopter was descending at more than 2,000 feet per minute at the time of impact.

“So we know that this was a high-energy-impact crash,” she said, “and the helicopter was in a descending left bank.”

The chopper hit the hillside at an elevation of 1,085 feet, about 20 to 30 feet below an outcropping of a hill, killing all nine people on board.

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