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All 9 Bodies Recovered From Calabasas Chopper Crash; Kobe Bryant's Remains Identified

CALABASAS (CBSLA) — Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was officially identified Tuesday as one of the nine victims of Sunday's helicopter crash in the Calabasas hills.

The other victims identified so far were 56-year-old John Altobelli, 45-year-old Sarah Chester and the pilot, 50-year-old Ara Zobayan. Los Angeles County coroner's office officials were still working to formally identify the remaining passengers. As of Tuesday morning, the bodies of all nine victims had been recovered, the coroner's office confirmed.

The NTSB Tuesday morning released new video of the crash investigation. At a Tuesday news conference, NTSB board member Jennifer Homendy said the plane missed clearing the top of the hill by 20 to 30 feet. Homendy said the federal on-site investigation has concluded, although it could be 12 to 18 months before a final report is issued and a determination of the cause of the crash is made.

NTSB Calabasas, CA Helicopter Crash B-Roll by NTSBgov on YouTube
NTSB Releases Video Of Kobe Bryant Calabasas Crash Investigation
The National Transportation Safety Board investigates the wreckage of the helicopter crash which killed Lakers star Kobe Bryant and eight others on Jan. 26, 2020, in Calabasas, Calf. (Credit: NTSB)

L.A. County Undersheriff Tim Murakami said Tuesday that the crash site -- located in the area of Las Virgenes Road and Willow Glen Street – remains shut down while the National Transportation Safety Board comb through the wreckage. Deputies were patrolling the area on horseback and with ATVs. Any members of the public caught encroaching onto the crash site would be charged with misdemeanor trespassing.

At around 9:45 a.m. Sunday, a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter carrying Kobe, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, two other teen girls and four parents crashed in Calabasas amid foggy conditions.

The helicopter had departed from John Wayne Airport in Orange County and was bound for Camarillo, with the passengers on board heading to the 41-year-old Bryant's Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, where he was set to coach Gianna in a tournament game.

Homendy told reporters Monday afternoon that Zobayan approached Hollywood Burbank Airport Sunday morning and "requested to transit controlled airspace under special visual flight rules," which would allow him to fly at less than the normal minimums of 1,000 feet and three miles of visibility.

The helicopter circled for 12 minutes while awaiting approval from air-traffic controllers, but the request was granted, she said.

"The helicopter transited the Burbank and Van Nuys airspace at 1,400 feet, and proceeded south then west," Homendy said Monday. "The pilot requested `flight following' (radar assistance) to continue to Camarillo, but (air-traffic controllers) advised the pilot that they were too low for flight following. Approximately four minutes later, the pilot advised they were climbing to avoid a cloud layer. When (air-traffic control) asked what the pilot planned to do, there was no reply. Radar data indicates the helicopter climbed to 2,300 feet then began a left-descending turn. Last radar contact was around 9:45 a.m. and was consistent with the accident location."

Homendy said that the pilot had an iPad with aviation software on it, and investigators recovered an iPad in the wreckage, but it's still unclear if it was the pilot's.

Also killed in the crash were John Altobelli, the head baseball coach at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, his wife Keri and their 13-year-old daughter Alyssa, one of Gianna's teammates. 45-year-old Sarah Chester and her 13-year-old daughter Payton -- another teammate -- were aboard as well, along with 38-year-old Christina Mauser, one of Bryant's assistant coaches.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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