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NTSB: Helicopter was 20-30 feet from clearing mountain

Posted at 7:43 PM, Jan 28, 2020

The NTSB continued its investigation on Tuesday into why a helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant and eight others crashed on Sunday into a hillside in Southern California, killing all nine on board.

According to NTSB investigator Jennifer Homendy, the helicopter came 20 to 30 feet from avoiding the mountain.

But investigators are interested in why the helicopter descended rapidly. Homendy said that the helicopter descended at a rate of 2,000 feet per minute. The helicopter went from an altitude of 2,300 feet above sea level, and crashed at 1,085 feet above sea level.

"This was a high-energy-impact crash and the helicopter was in a descending left bank," she said.

Homendy also thanked the public for assisting in the investigation, but added that the NTSB received a number of false tips, which has slowed down investigators. The NTSB requested on Monday assistance from the public to determine the weather conditions near the scene of the crash on Sunday.

Video and photos from the crash site indicated that heavy fog was in the area at the time the helicopter crashed.

The pilot of the helicopter, who was among the nine killed, has lengthy experience in the air. He had 8,200 hours of total flight time and 1,250 hours with the type of helicopter flown on Sunday. He had completed the same route on Saturday, albeit in clear conditions.

But investigators have not determined whether the helicopter should have remained grounded.

"We can't make any assumptions about what somebody is thinking. So our investigation is strictly focused on the facts, and then those facts will lead us to an analysis," Homendy said.

Homendy said that the NTSB could release its initial findings as soon as next week, but its full report could take as much as 18 months.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County coroner has positively identified four of the nine victims who died from the crash:

· John Altobelli, DOB: 5/8/63

· Kobe Bryant, DOB: 8/23/78
· Sarah Chester, DOB: 6/29/74
· Ara Zobayan, DOB: 1/2/70