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So many Kobe Bryant fans flooded helicopter crash area that authorities have closed roads

Fans gather near site of helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant
Christopher Pena, 33, and his wife Lizbeth, 30, of Pacoima mourn along with Jose Gutierrez, 33, of La Puente near the scene of the Calabasas helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

So many Kobe Bryant fans have converged on the Calabasas area where he and eight others were killed Sunday morning in a helicopter crash that authorities have restricted the area to residents only.

L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said people have flooded into the area of the crash, some going into residential neighborhoods and trying to get to the remote hillside where the helicopter went down. He said the traffic was making it harder for investigators and emergency personnel to do their jobs.

“It is off limits to everybody,” he said of the crash site, noting that the Federal Aviation Administration has a 5-mile no-fly zone around it up to altitudes of 5,000 feet. “People, stay away.”

Authorities have closed the offramps of the 101 Freeway at Las Virgenes Road as well as other roads near the crash site.

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The sheriff urged those who want to mourn Bryant to go to De Anza Park in Calabasas.

Earlier in the day, more than 400 fans gathered near the crash site yelling chants of “MVP” and “Kobe, Kobe.” The crowd, many of them wearing Bryant’s No. 24, stood looking up at the dry hillside where the Lakers’ legend died along with his daughter and seven others.

One man stood in his yellow Lakers dressing gown, Bryant socks and Nike Lakers high-tops. “To represent Kobe,” Philip Gordon said. The robe, he said, was given by Bryant to Conan O’Brien on his show in 2010. A relative worked on the show, and O’Brien gave the robe to that relative. “I am honoring his memory,” Gordon said.

Irvin Guillermo of Northridge, clad in his purple Lakers bomber jacket, said: “I am here to honor Kobe Bryant. Kobe has done so much for our city, our community and our county. He did so many things more than play great basketball.

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“I would have never thought of something like this happening. This guy won an Oscar. He had so much more to offer.”


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