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Blunt force trauma listed as cause of death for Kobe Bryant, others in helicopter crash

NTSB investigator Carol Hogan examines wreckage as part of the NTSB’s investigation of the helicopter crash near Calabasas.
NTSB investigator Carol Hogan examines wreckage as part of the NTSB’s investigation of the helicopter crash near Calabasas.
(Associated Press)

Blunt force trauma was ruled the official cause of death for Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others whose died when their helicopter crashed into a Calabasas hillside on Jan. 26.

The Los Angeles County medical examiner-coroner’s office released an autopsy report Friday along with toxicological testing results that did not detect any illegal substances or alcohol in the bloodstream of the helicopter pilot, Ara Zobayan.

Substances tested for included marijuana, heroin, fentanyl and cocaine.

The manner of death was declared an accident and death was immediate. The coroner’s portion of the investigation, which began Jan. 28, is now considered closed. A federal investigation remains underway and there are civil cases pending.

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Six doctors from the coroner’s office conducted the autopsies of the nine deceased, which included Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, 56, who perished with his 46-year-old wife, Keri, and 14-year-old daughter, Alyssa.

Christina Mauser, 38, an assistant coach selected by Bryant to work at his Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, was also on the helicopter, along with 13-year-old Payton Chester, an academy member, and her mother, Sarah, 45.

The 1991 Sikorsky S-76B helicopter carrying all nine left John Wayne Airport at 9:06 a.m. on Jan. 26, heading to the academy in conditions that included “fog and low clouds obscuring the hillside,” according to an earlier report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

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The helicopter just missed hitting a previous hillside before crashing.

A legal battle ensued shortly after the crash with Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court in February against Island Express Holding Corp. and Island Express Helicopter, which employed Zobayan.

Zobayan’s brother, Berge, recently countered that Bryant knew the dangers of flying by helicopter.


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