WOODLAND HILLS─The bodies of nine victims that died in the fatal helicopter crash alongside Kobe Bryant and his daughter were recovered and identified on Wednesday, January 29, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner.
Using fingerprints, officials were able to determine the identities of deceased. John and Keri Altobelli, and their daughter Aya Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, and Ara Zobayan all died in the crash along with Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Maria Onore who was only 13 years old. The group was traveling to Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy for a game Gianna was to participate in.
The crash transpired on January 26 on the 4200 block of Las Virgenes block in Calabasas along a mountainside. The Los Angeles County Fire Department responded to the scene finding helicopter ablaze with wreckage and no survivors. The county coroner’s Special Operations Response Team recovered three bodies that day. Search efforts to find the remaining occupants was stopped around noon due to darkness and safety concerns. The day after, the search continued for the six other occupants inside the helicopter during the crash.
The helicopter that went down Sunday was a Sikorsky S-76 B, which was Bryant’s personal helicopter. Records show that the helicopter was built in 1991. According to aviation experts the model is known for its impeccable safety record. The Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. stated that the S-76 was logged for more than 7.4 million flight hours collectively serving as air ambulance, search and rescue aircraft, and executive transport.
Pilot Ara Zobayan, who died in the crash has a total of 1250 hours in the Sikorsky S-76 B, where he was knowledgeable in the aircraft. Reports state that he was considered one of Bryant’s personal favorite pilots.
NTSB member Jennifer Homendy indicated during a press conference that it is common for pilots to fly under special visual rules when requested. She announced that it took approximately a minute for the aircraft to go from descent to impact. According to their preliminary investigations, the aircraft impacted in one piece. Homendy noted that the aircraft did not contain a Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS). The system is used to prevent unintentional impacts with the ground.