- The retired N.B.A. star, 41, and his daughter Gianna were among nine people in a helicopter that crashed near Calabasas, Calif. A college baseball coach and his wife and daughter were also killed.
Kobe Bryant was among the passengers traveling onboard the helicopter. Nine people died in the crash, including the pilot, said Alex Villanueva, the Los Angeles County sheriff, during a news conference.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it sent a team to California on Sunday evening.
Daryl Osby, the Los Angeles County fire chief, said the crash site was difficult to access and that firefighters had to hike to the area.
It was not immediately clear how many passengers the helicopter was approved to transport, and fire officials said it was not immediately clear whether the helicopter was overloaded.
The N.B.A. sent a confirmation of Bryant’s and Gianna’s deaths to all teams and league employees Sunday afternoon, according to two people familiar with the document.
The other victims of the crash included John Altobelli, a longtime baseball coach at Orange Coast College, a junior college in Costa Mesa. Calif., as well as Altobelli’s wife, Keri, and daughter Alyssa, university officials said.
Authorities say It could take several days to recover bodies
Sheriff Alex Villanueva of Los Angeles County said the helicopter went down in an area with “very rough terrain,” and that even emergency officials had found it dangerous to reach during daylight on Sunday. The debris field, the sheriff said, was roughly 100 yards in each direction.
The local authorities did not immediately release the identities of the people who were aboard the helicopter, including Bryant, and the chief medical examiner for Los Angeles County, Dr. Jonathan R. Lucas, said it could take several days to recover the bodies from the crash site.
“We will be doing our work thoroughly, quickly and with the utmost compassion,” Lucas said. “We’re doing everything we can to confirm identifications and give closure to the families involved.”
Bryant and his daughter were going to an academy where he coached her team.
Outside the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, Calif., fans laid flowers and lit candles at an impromptu memorial for their star. The gym had handwritten signs on the door: Closed.
A few dozen people, adults of all ages, stood huddled in silence around the memorial of several jerseys, candles, dozens of bouquets, Sports Illustrated magazines with Bryant on the cover, and a Lakers flag. Written on one bouquet was “We love you Kobe and Gigi.” Another card, the shape of a Lakers basketball, read, “The day we lost a legend: 1-26-20 Thank you for being a role model for me and for others.”
Bryant was on his way to the academy to coach his daughter when the helicopter crashed, according to two law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to divulge details of the ongoing investigations.
The academy was hosting the Mamba Cup Tournament Series, a series of tournaments for boys and girls basketball teams from the third through eighth grades. All the games were canceled after the news of Bryant’s death became public.