Four of the nine bodies have been identified as investigators continue to examine the crash site of the flight that killed Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others on Sunday.
Those who have been identified include Bryant, Sarah Chester, John Altobelli and the pilot, Ara Zobayan.
Gianna Bryant, 13, was traveling with her father to a youth basketball tournament in which she was playing. Two of her teammates died with her -- Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester -- along with Alyssa’s parents, John and Keri Altobelli, and Payton’s mother, Sarah Chester. Christina Mauser was the girls' basketball coach at Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
The pilot flying the chartered Sikorsky S-76B was no rookie -- he had logged 1,250 hours on the helicopter when it plunged into a foggy hillside in Calabasas, Calif., according to National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) member Jennifer Homendy, who spoke at a news conference Tuesday. He’d been with the charter company for 10 years.
Homendy said the flight had a descent rate of 2,000 feet per minute for a “high-energy impact crash.” She said the chopper fell to the ground in one piece, crashing after about a minute of plunging. She said it was not yet clear if the pilot could have recovered from the dive.
The scene of the crash is currently a HAZMAT scene and clean-up crews are working to expunge the toxic mess. Vehicles cannot reach the hillside crash site due to the rugged terrain, so it may take as many as five to seven days to complete the cleanup.
The NTSB will release its full preliminary report in 10 days, but the final report could take as many as 12 to 18 months, according to Homendy.