Advertisement
California

Tourists and fans invade Calabasas hillside where Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crashed

Makeshift memorial near Kobe Bryant’s crash site
A makeshift memorial on Jan. 27, 2020, near the site of the helicopter crash in Calabasas that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

As out-of-town visitors arrived in Calabasas looking to glimpse the hillside where Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven other people died in a helicopter crash, some ran into sheriff’s checkpoints, some became lost and others had no idea where to go.

Enter 70-year-old Linda Adams.

The 30-year Calabasas resident pointed to a shortcut between Las Virgenes Creek, where fans gathered to scan the hillside, and Las Virgenes Road, which saved several travelers at least a mile of walking.

A few onlookers even joined Adams to catch a better and closer view of the crash site.

Advertisement

“You want to be helpful since so many people are not from the area,” she said.

Adams was asked whether this was the worse tragedy in area history. She said it was runner-up.

“If you ask Calabasas people, they’ll tell you this is the second-worst disaster after the [Woolsey] fires from two years ago,” Adams said. “Then, there was a chance so many of us would be homeless and others died.”

She still lamented the death of Bryant.

Advertisement

“He’s a special player and I feel like so many us grew up watching him or watched him grow up either on television or through tickets,” Adams said. “He’ll be missed.”

This was the scene Monday in the hills of Calabasas. As authorities recovered bodies from the helicopter crash, a stream of visitors, Bryant fans and tourists came to the area and wanted to look at the site for themselves. Some had cameras. A few had binoculars.

Authorities had urged people to stay away, saying the added traffic has made it harder for first responders. Thousands showed up Sunday. Monday, it was less crowded but still a surreal scene.

A group of just-arrived Filipino tourists walked up to Adams to ask about a large makeshift memorial they had heard about.

Adams pointed the family of Bryant fans to nearby Juan Bautista de Anza Park, where they eventually laid flowers for the fallen star.

Andi Clark, Adams’ high school friend since the mid-1960s, joined Adams as close as both could to the crash site before being turned away by sheriff’s deputies.

“I wouldn’t have even been here without Linda,” Clark, 70, said. “She knows all the spots.”

The investigation has meant some Calabasas businesses have had to close shop as sheriff’s deputies have blocked access to Las Virgenes Road. Many were turned away at a nearby office park that houses medical facilities and eateries.

Advertisement

Dentist Edmond Mgdesyan said he’d had three or four cancellations by 1 p.m., with a few other appointments looming.

“If my patients can’t get through, they’re just going to go home,” he said. “We’ve been told it’s going to be like this for a while.”

On top of the cancellations, Mgdesyan said, deliveries weren’t arriving.

“We’re waiting for packages, for equipment and medicine that we need,” he said.

Two doors down, optometrist Doug Barloski sympathized.

“None of my packages have been delivered,” said Barloski, who works for Calabasas Optometry. “These are deliveries of glasses that patients are waiting for.

“It feels like a ghost town here, which isn’t usually the case. It’s usually busy.”

Other businesses, such as La Paz Mexican Seafood and Symmetry Pilates & Yoga, either closed early Monday or never opened.


Newsletter
The stories shaping California

Get up to speed with our Essential California newsletter, sent six days a week.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.
Advertisement