As the world mourns the loss of Kobe Bryant,his daughter Gianna Bryantand the lives of the other seven people onboard, investigators work to understand what actually happened during the helicopter crash on Sunday.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the helicopter slammed into a hillside with a “high energy impact,” officials said Tuesday. A member of NTSB, Jennifer Homendy, told CNN, “The descent rate for the helicopter was over 2,000 feet a minute, so we know that this was a high energy impact crash. This is a pretty steep descent at high speed. So it wouldn’t be a normal landing speed.”


The impact happened 1,085 feet above seal level and missed the top of the hill by 20 to 30 feet. Investigators also reported that debris was spread 500 to 600 feet around the area where the crash occurred. Homendy said the NTSB’s preliminary report will be released in 10 days and the final report will take anywhere between 12-18 months.

“It’s not going to contain our findings, our analysis, it’s not going to contain any safety recommendations or probable cause but it’s going to provide some factual information — more than we have now, but just the facts,” Homendy said in reference to the preliminary report.

After conducting a thorough search, Homendy also concluded that the helicopter did not have a terrain awareness and warning system which would provide the pilot with information about nearby terrain. She later added that the NTSB recommended this system be installed in helicopters similar to Bryant’s following a 2004 crash in Texas that left ten people dead, but the Federal Aviation Administration failed to implement it.

In the last audio communication from the pilot to air traffic control, the pilot said he was climbing to avoid a cloud layer. Air traffic control asked him what he was going to do, but there was no response.  Homedy said the helicopter ascended 2,300 feet before attempting a left descending turn and the last contact made was at 9:45 a.m. Two minutes later a 911 call was made to Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva reporting the crash.

Weather experts will continue to investigate the flying conditions from Sunday and whether or not the pilot should have been granted special permission to fly that day. More information will be reported when available.


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