Bryant crash pilot had no drugs, no alcohol in the system – The Oakland Press
LOS ANGELES – The pilot who took Kobe Bryant and seven others to a youth basketball tournament had no alcohol or drugs in his system, and all nine suffered immediate fatal injuries when their helicopter crashed into a hill outside Los Angeles in January, according to autopsies released Friday.
Reports from the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office offer a clinical but unvarnished look at the brutality of the crash.
One of Los Angeles’ most popular sports figures and a worldwide celebrity, Bryant was broken to the point of unrecognizable when his body was found outside the helicopter wreckage. His remains must have been identified by his fingerprints.
The report was clear: Bryant and the passengers were almost certainly dead in an instant from blunt trauma.
“These injuries are quickly if not instantly fatal,” wrote Juan Carrillo, senior assistant medical examiner, in Bryant’s report.
The crash that killed 41-year-old retired Los Angeles Lakers star his 13-year-old daughter Gianna – in the jersey she would have worn to play that morning, with the word “Mamba” on the front and his last name on the back – pilot Ara Zobayan and the others is considered accidental.
Bryant was heading from his Orange County home to his daughter’s tournament at his Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks on the morning of January 26. The group, comprising one of her daughter’s coaches and two of her teammates, encountered heavy fog in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles.
Zobayan, an experienced pilot who often piloted Bryant, climbed sharply and almost managed to break through the clouds when the craft took a steep left turn and plunged into the grassy, oak-studded hills below.
When it struck the ground, it was flying at approximately 184 mph (296 km / h) and descending at a speed of over 4,000 feet per minute. The impact caused a crater and scattered debris over an area the size of a football field in the Calabasas Hills. The flames engulfed the wreckage, but it was determined that burns to the bodies had occurred after the death.
Bryant’s body was found on one side of the wreckage and his daughter was found in a ravine on the other side.
The autopsy noted Bryant’s crown tattoo on his right shoulder, above where his wife’s name, Vanessa, was printed. On the lower right arm were the names of three of his four daughters: Bianka Bella, Natalia Diamante and Gianna Maria-Onore, the daughter who died with him.
The youngest daughter, Capri Kobe, only 7 months old when her father died, is not mentioned.
The only drug in Bryant’s system was methylphenidate, which is sold under the brand name Ritalin and used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy.
The National Transportation Safety Board has not concluded on the cause of the crash on the outskirts of Los Angeles County, but said there was no sign of mechanical failure of the Sikorsky S-76. A final report is not expected for months.
The aircraft did not have a device called the Terrain Alert and Detection System, which signals when an aircraft is at risk of hitting the ground. While the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that the system be mandatory for helicopters, the Federal Aviation Administration only requires it for air ambulances. The two Californian senators asked the FAA to mandate the devices following the tragedy.
The others killed were Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and their daughter Alyssa; Christina Mauser, who helped Bryant coach her daughter’s basketball team; and Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton. Alyssa and Payton were Gianna’s teammates.
Bryant is the only NBA player to have his team withdraw two numbers in his honor. He was selected last month for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. A ceremony is scheduled for late August, although it may be delayed at least until October due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bryant and his daughter were honored at a star-studded public memorial on February 24 at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, with 20,000 people in attendance at the arena where Bryant spent most of his two-decade career. with the Lakers. The date of 02/24 corresponded to the No. 24 jersey he was wearing and the No. 2 worn by Gianna.
On the same day, Vanessa Bryant filed a lengthy complaint alleging that Zobayan had been reckless and negligent to fly in the fog and should have stopped the flight. She also filed a lawsuit, a precursor to legal action, against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after lawmakers allegedly shared unauthorized photos of the crash site.
Zobayan’s brother Berge Zobayan said in a court filing that Bryant was aware of the risks of the helicopter flight and that his survivors were not entitled to damages from the pilot’s estate, while the helicopter company , Island Express, said it was not responsible for the damage, calling the crash, among other things, an “act of God” and “an inevitable accident” that was beyond their control.
Associated Press Basketball writer Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed.