Kobe Bryant, 41, the legendary basketball star who spent 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers, was killed when the helicopter he was traveling in crashed and burst into flames Sunday morning amid foggy conditions in the hills above Calabasas, sources told the Los Angeles Times.
Bryant’s death stunned Los Angeles and the sports world, which mourned one of basketball’s greatest players. Sources said the helicopter took off from Orange County, where Bryant lived.
The crash occurred shortly before 10 a.m. near Las Virgenes Road, south of Agoura Road, according to a watch commander for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Four others on board also died.
Jerry Kocharian was standing outside the Church in the Canyon drinking coffee when he heard a helicopter unusually low struggling overhead. “It [didn’t] sound right and it was real low. I saw it falling and spluttering. But it was hard to make out as It was so foggy,” Kocharian said. The helicopter vanished into a cloud of fog and then there was a boom.
“There was a big fireball,” he said. “No one could survive that.”
The helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76B built in 1991, departed John Wayne Airport at 9:06 a.m. Sunday, according to publicly available flight records. The helicopter passed over Boyle Heights, near Dodger Stadium, circled over Glendale during the flight.
The National Transportation Safety Board database does not show any prior incidents or accidents for this aircraft. The helicopter is registered to the Fillmore-based Island Express Holding Corp., according to the California Secretary of State business database.
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