When news of Sunday’s crash involving Kobe Bryant broke, the reports came fast and furious, but were, in some cases, incorrect. Too often in a “big story”, the media is concerned more about being first, than being correct. Here’s what’s now been confirmed through national news networks.
ABC News’ chief national reporter, Matt Gutman, was accountable for perhaps the biggest blunder. Gutman stated that all four of Bryant’s children were on board the aircraft. ABC has now suspended him for the inaccuracy.
Gutman was quoted as saying, “”We are in the business of holding people accountable. And I hold myself accountable for a terrible mistake, which I deeply regret.”
The Aircraft and Pilot
Bryant’s party was flying in a 1991 Sikorsky S-76B helicopter when it crashed near Calabasas, California on Sunday, January 26th. The crash killed a total of nine; there were no survivors.
Ara Zobayan piloted the aircraft. Zobayan had logged 8,200 hours of flight time. The 50-year-old was a licensed commercial helicopter pilot of 12 years. He was a certified flight instructor of two years and a ground instructor of 11 years, according to federal aviation records. He was also IFR (instrument flight) rated, meaning that he was qualified to fly in fog.
The aircraft contained no black-box (flight data recorder), however, the device was not required in this particular aircraft.
No cause for the crash has been identified.
The party was headed to Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California, for a youth basketball event.
Per CBS, “The helicopter circled Glendale for 14 minutes after takeoff. The pilot proceeded to climb into the clouds before taking a sharp turn and ultimately hitting the ground.”
According to a CNN report, “At one point, an air traffic controller informed the pilot, “You’re still too low for flight following at this time.” This means that the aircraft could not be tracked on radar by air traffic controllers.
Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby stated, “The Los Angeles County Fire Department’s initial response was 15 pieces of apparatus and 56 personnel.”
The crash caused a brush fire of approximately 1/4 acre, preventing firefighters and paramedics from immediately reaching the victims.
The FAA states that the aircraft also lacked a device to help flight in low-visibility conditions, but under the circumstances, this device may not have prevented the crash.
CBS confirmed the victims’ identities. The crash claimed the lives of: Kobe Bryant (age 41). Gianna Bryant (age 13). Orange County College baseball coach John Altobelli (age 50). Alyssa Altobelli (Jon’s wife). Keri Altobelli (John’s daughter). Christina Mauser (coach). Sarah Chester and her middle school-aged daughter (Payton was a teammate of Gianna Bryant’s). Pilot, Ara Zobayan.
Updates will be posted when available.
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