'Didn't sound right': Final moments before Kobe Bryant crash as more victims identified

Riley Morgan
Sports Reporter

Witnesses have described the harrowing final moments Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant died on Sunday when a helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California.

The helicopter crash killed nine people including his daughter, known as Gigi, with a fellow player and parent on her travel basketball team.

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LA Times reporter Richard Winton was in the area and described the initial carnage from the crash.

“The crash occurred in thick fog over Calabasas- I heard the copter and then boom, then a fire ball and small explosions on the hillside,” he wrote in a tweet.

General views of the scenes surrounding the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant due to a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Inset is John Altobelli, who also died in the crash. (Photo by PG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

A witness expanded on the scene in a report for the LA Times.

“It [didn’t] sound right and it was real low. I saw it falling and spluttering. But it was hard to make out as it was so foggy,” witness Jerry Kocharian told the publication.

“There was a big fireball,” he said. “No one could survive that.”

Victims of the crash

A Southern California community college baseball coach, his wife and daughter were among those killed in the crash of the helicopter carrying Bryant and his daughter.

The younger brother of Orange Coast College coach John Altobelli confirmed the deaths as relatives, friends and players gathered at the school's baseball field Sunday afternoon.

Flowers and baseball caps were placed on home plate.

Fans gather at a makeshift memorial for former NBA player Kobe Bryant outside of the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California, U.S., January 26, 2020. REUTERS/Ringo Chiu

John Altobelli's brother, Tony, is the sports information director at the school.

He said his 56-year-old brother died along with his wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa, who was about 13 and played on the same basketball team as Bryant's daughter, Gianna.

John Altobelli was entering his 28th season as coach at the community college in Costa Mesa, California.

The team won a state championship last year and John Altobelli was named national coach of the year.

With AP