NTSB Report Claims Kobe Bryant's Pilot Was Most Likely Disoriented by Fog Seconds Before Crash

The investigation into the helicopter accident that killed nine people including Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, revealed that the pilot possibly "misperceived" his direction and location right before the crash.

On Wednesday, the NTSB released documentation from federal investigators into the helicopter that crashed into a Calabassas mountainside on January 26, killing all nine people on board.

Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna attend the WNBA All-Star Game 2019 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 27, 2019, in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Source: Getty Images.

Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna attend the WNBA All-Star Game 2019 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 27, 2019, in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Source: Getty Images.

THE PILOT GOT DISORIENTATED

That morning, a thick fog covered the area, and with the low visibility, the pilot Ara Zobayan "misperceived both pitch and roll angles." Consequently, Zobayan thought he was climbing when in fact the helicopter was plummeting towards a hillside. 

Zobayan contacted air traffic controllers and said that he was busy climbing to 4,000 feet to lift clear of the clouds, but it was an allusion of his disorientation. Instead of climbing, the helicopter descended for the last time before it plummeted into the mountainside.

According to experts that worked on the investigation, the flight path showed that Zobayan became disorientated as he didn't anticipate the change in the weather.

THE WEATHER CHANGED QUICKLY

Roughly 45 minutes before take-off, Zobayan contacted flight controllers and said that the weather looked "OK" - an estimation OC Helicopters owner Richard Webb agreed on, and they took off as scheduled from John Wayne Airport at 9:06 am. 

It took four months before the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner's office released the autopsy results for all the people on board the helicopter on that tragic day. 

Kobe Bryant standing next to a helicopter on April 13, 2016, at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images.

Kobe Bryant standing next to a helicopter on April 13, 2016, at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images.

AUTOPSY RESULTS

The documents stated that all passengers died from accidental blunt force trauma. The information became available days after Berge Zobayan, a representative for the pilot Ara, made the controversial claim that the accident happened "in full or in part by the negligence or fault" of the plaintiffs. 

Additionally, Ara Zobayan's autopsy results showed no trace of drugs or alcohol in his system, and his girlfriend reportedly told the NTSB that Ara had been in great physical shape.

ALLEGATIONS AND LAWSUITS

The claim made by Berge Zobayan came after Vanessa Bryant filed a lawsuit against Island Express Helicopters in February.

According to Vanessa's attorneys, Ara had a "duty to use that degree of care that an ordinarily careful and prudent pilot would use under the same or similar circumstances."

While the conclusion of the newly released NTSB report doesn't reveal the cause of the crash, a final report is expected later this year. 

REMEMBERED FOR THEIR CONTRIBUTION

The late basketball star, Kobe Bryant will also receive posthumous recognition from the Emmys next month. In memory of his "philanthropy, and inspiration that extended beyond the basketball court," Kobe will be honored with the prestigious Los Angeles Area Emmy Governors Award.

In addition to Kobe, his late daughter Gianna Bryant also had her life honored by the Women's National Basketball Association.

Much like her father, Gianna was a talented basketball player loved by all, and in her memory, the late Gigi was made an honorary draft pick this year.

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