Authorities Release 911 Calls from the Helicopter Crash that Killed Kobe Bryant and 8 Others

Just-released audio from the Los Angeles County Fire dispatchers is shedding more light on the conditions in Calabasas on the morning of January 26, when Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash.

Some callers described such foggy conditions that they could not see what they heard, according to the calls published by KTLA. The Los Angeles County Fire Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

“I could hear this plane, as if it was in the clouds but couldn’t see it, then we just heard a boom and a dead sound, and I could see the flames,” one caller, who had been hiking on a trail nearby, described.

When asked what was on fire, the hiker said, “The hill. But whatever crashed into the hill is also on fire… I think it was an airplane. A small plane.”

“A helicopter crashed into a mountain, we heard it, and now I’m looking at the flames,” said another caller, who said he could see the crash site from a quarter-mile away at an Erewhon grocery store. “We’re looking at the flames right now on the hills.”

“I just heard a helicopter go over me, approximately from Lost Hills Road on a south to easterly sweep. It went over my head, it’s thick in clouds, and then I heard a pop, and it immediately stopped… I can’t see it,” another caller who said he has lived in the area since 1963 said. “That part of the mountain is… in clouds.”

Another caller called twice to clarify the location of the helicopter. By the time of his second call, he said that the flames were still burning but were starting to die down.

In addition to Kobe and Gianna, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan perished in the crash.

The group had been on their way to a youth basketball game at Bryant’s Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks.

While the fire department did not release time stamps along with the calls, it took place around 10 a.m.

Jennifer Homendy with the National Transportation Safety Board announced that the aircraft — which had been flying in extremely foggy conditions — plunged over “2,000 feet per minute” before crashing during a press conference last Tuesday.

The bodies of the victims were recovered last week, the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner said in a news release on Tuesday. All nine victims had been identified by Wednesday, and the coroner’s office said their causes of death were certified as “blunt trauma.”

“The manner of death was certified as an accident,” the press release said.

PEOPLE spoke with one of the 911 callers on the day of the tragic crash.

“It was right at 9:41 a.m.,” Scott Daehlin told PEOPLE, adding that the cloud deck “was much lower” than normal.

“Probably the cloud base was about 300 feet. I think another local resident who lived here 17 years in these condos said he’d never seen the fog and low clouds this thick,” Daehlin, 61, said.

“All of a sudden I hear impact, crash, breaking fiberglass, plexiglass,” Daehlin described, adding that the helicopter rotors “immediately stopped” spinning.

“It was over in a quarter second. Just went quiet,” he said.

“I was sitting on my couch when I heard it go over our roof. I thought to myself, ‘Wow they’re flying really low today.’ It must’ve been about 100 feet above our roof by the way the house was shaking. I couldn’t imagine why a helicopter was flying so low – although we have a lot of police choppers coming over because the sheriff’s headquarters is up the road a bit,” Matt Graham, another Calabasas resident told PEOPLE on January 26.

“About five minutes later I heard there was a report of a plane that went down, then I started hearing sirens. Moments later reports that it was a helicopter started coming out. It was just so foggy out. I’ve never seen anything like it. If anyone says that they actually saw it (the crash), they’re lying. Nobody could see anything because it was so foggy,” he said.

NTSB said on Tuesday that the helicopter could have avoided the hill it crashed into if it had been flying 20 to 30 feet higher.

But NTSB investigator Bill English added that the surrounding hills would have required an even higher altitude to clear.

“It’s important to realize that there’s not one hill,” English said at NTSB’s press conference. “It’s a ravine with undulating terrain, so the small outcropping that had the main impact in it, the main impact was about 20 to 30 feet from the top of that small hill. But there are actually other higher hills surrounding it.”

If you would like to help the families of the victims of the crash, consider donating to the Mamba on Three Fund. Contributions to the Mamba Sports Foundation will help support youth sports.


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