By Oyediji Oluwaseun Babatunde
Sports Writer, kick442.com-Nigeria
As the world continue to mourn the death of former NBA legend, Kobe Bryant after his demise, the President of Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), Musa Kida on Tuesday, January 28, 2020, released a statement to praise the icon and commiserate with his family and Basketball fraternity world over.
“Kobe Bryant was a global icon and extraordinary athlete whose impact transcended beyond the sport of Basketball inspiring athletes across the world. An embodiment of the NBA. His mastery of the sport was legendary.
On behalf of the Nigerian Basketball Federation, I extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, the Los Angeles Lakers and the management of the National Basketball Association. Kobe will be sorely missed by all.” The statement read.
At 9:06 a.m. Pacific Standard Time on January 26, 2020, a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter departed from John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California , with nine people aboard: Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, six family friends and the pilot. The helicopter was registered to the Fillmore-based Island Express Holding Corp., according to the California Secretary of State business database. The group was traveling to a practice session at Bryant’s Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks.
Due to light rain and foggy weather that morning, the LAPD helicopters and most other air traffic were grounded. The flight tracker shows that the helicopter experienced issues while above the L.A. Zoo . The helicopter circled the area six times at an altitude of around 850 feet (260 m). At 9:30 a.m. the pilot Ara Zobayan contacted the Burbank Airport’s control tower, notifying the tower of the situation and was told he was “flying too low” to be tracked by radar. At that time, the helicopter experienced extreme fog and turned south towards the mountains.
At 9:40 a.m. the helicopter climbed rapidly from 1,200 to 2,000 feet (370 to 610 m) flying at 161 knots (298 km/h; 185 mph).
At 9:45 a.m. the helicopter crashed into the side of a mountain in Calabasas, about 30 miles (48 km) northwest of downtown Los Angeles, and caught on fire.
Bryant, and the other 8 occupants, were killed. This also started a 1/4-acre bush fire. At 9:47 a.m. authorities were called. The helicopter had passed over Boyle Heights, near Dodger Stadium, and circled over Glendale during the flight. Personnel from the Los Angeles County Fire Department attended the scene, and paramedics rappelled from a helicopter to the scene to look for survivors. The fire was difficult to extinguish due to the presence of magnesium, but the fire had been extinguished by 10:30 a.m.
Initial reports indicated that the helicopter crashed in the hills above Calabasas in heavy fog. Witnesses reported hearing a helicopter struggling before crashing.
The Federal Aviation Administration, National Transportation Safety Board, and the FBI have launched investigations into the crash.
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