The body of Kobe Bryant, along with 3 other victims, have been identified by officials. According to a release Tuesday afternoon by the L.A. County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner, 4 of the people involved in the deadly helicopter crash have been identified, while the other victims, including that of 13-year-old Gianna Bryant, have yet to get an official ID.
“Over the span of two days, personnel from the department’s Special Operations Response Team (SORT) located and recovered the nine bodies from the extensive crash site,” the release stated.
Officials said they were able to utilize fingerprints to identify the 4 decedents. Along with Kobe, 3 other victims were positively ID’d, including the helicopter pilot:
John Altobelli, DOB: 5/8/63
Kobe Bryant, DOB: 8/23/78
Sarah Chester, DOB: 6/29/74
Ara Zobayan, DOB: 1/2/70
The update added, “Investigators are still working on identifying the five remaining decedents. The Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner will provide immediate updates on the names of the decedents as soon as they are officially verified and their next of kin have been notified.”
The National Transportation Safety Board held a press conference on Tuesday and updated the public with some surprising information. Kobe Bryant’s helicopter was not equipped with a terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS) which alerts pilots when an aircraft gets too close to terrain and could have possibly warned pilot Ara Zobayan about his proximity during the doomed flight.
The NTSB said they had requested that the FAA make TAWS mandatory on helicopters, but said the agency declined.
The NTSB has previously recommended that the Federal Aviation Administration require helicopters that can carry 6 passengers, like the one that crashed Sunday, to incorporate the technology, but the agency declined, she said. Aviation safety experts have said TAWS systems have saved countless lives.
“Certainly, TAWS could have helped,” Jennifer Homendy told the press.
During the press conference, investigators revealed that the helicopter clipped a ridge only 20 – 30 feet from the top of a hillside. The dense fog made it near impossible to see, which again would not have been an issue if TAWS were equipped on the aircraft.
“The main impact was about 20 to 30 feet from that small hill, but there were other higher hills surrounding it…it’s in a canyon with small hills within it,” Homendy explained.
After the initial impact, the aircraft plunged at a rate of “over 2,000 feet per minute,” making it a “high-energy impact crash,” according to officials.