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Frantic 911 callers report Kobe Bryant helicopter crash, cite foggy conditions

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As investigators continue to probe the cause of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others, authorities have made public a series of 911 calls fielded by emergency operators on that foggy Sunday morning.

“I am walking on the trail. I could hear the plane. I think it was in the clouds, but I couldn’t see it then. We just heard a boom and a dead sound, and then I could see the flames,” said a man on a nearby hiking trail in Calabasas.

For the record:
11:30 AM, Feb. 04, 2020 An earlier version of this article stated the National Transportation Safety Board released the 911 calls. They were released by the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Elsewhere in the article, Jennifer Homendy was described as an NTSB investigator. She is a board member with the agency.
11:30 AM, Feb. 04, 2020

A second caller said, “A helicopter crashed into a mountain. We heard it. And now I’m looking at the flames.”

A third caller: “It went over my head. It’s thick in clouds. And then I heard a pop, and it immediately stopped. If this guy doesn’t have night vision, he is completely IFR [instrument flight rules].”

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Two of the callers noted the foggy conditions at the time of the crash, which is one of the subjects of the investigation. Of the numerous calls that flooded operators, the Los Angeles County Fire Department released five.

The recordings come as the NTSB continues to investigate the cause of the crash. The agency is expected to release preliminary findings in the coming days.

Jennifer Homendy, an NTSB board member, said the helicopter was at 2,300 feet when it lost communication with air traffic controllers. The helicopter was descending at more than 2,000 feet per minute at the time of impact.

“So we know that this was a high-energy-impact crash,” she said, “and the helicopter was in a descending left bank.”

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The chopper hit the hillside at an elevation of 1,085 feet, about 20 to 30 feet below an outcropping of a hill, killing all nine people on board.


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