An appeal for video and photographs showing weather conditions at the time of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others has generated a “tremendous response,” the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday.
The NTSB issued the appeal to the public late Monday as part of its investigation into the tragic crash.
“They have sent us photos, videos, other tips,” NTSB member Jennifer Homendy said during an interview with Fox News. “It's been tremendously helpful…. So if you do have photos of the weather in the area of the crash at that time, please send them in.”
Later Tuesday, the NTSB released a nearly three-minute video of the helicopter crash site in Calabasas in north Los Angeles County. The footage shot by a drone shows NTSB investigators poring through the wreckage on the side of a hill.
Bryant, the retired NBA great, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others were killed when their helicopter crashed Sunday morning with thick fog reported in the area and other parts of Southern California.
Bryant's death at 41 was met by a global outpouring of grief for an athlete whose fame reached beyond basketball.
The fog was severe enough to ground Los Angeles Police Department helicopters, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Homendy said the weather at the time of the crash was a focus of the investigation.
“With any investigation, we look at man, machine and the environment, and we have weather experts that are on staff that are looking at the weather situation and analyzing, you know, decision making is whether the pilot should have been operating in that weather,” she told Fox News. “And that's part of our investigation.”
The NTSB official said investigators will address whether the pilot should have taken off, but she said “that comes later.”
“Right now, we're collecting the perishable evidence, mapping out the debris field,” she said. “Then we'll do the analysis back later as part of the investigation.”
Homendy provided a description of the debris field, which stretches 500 to 600 feet.
“There is a part of the tail that's below where the main impact area is off the hill," she said. “And then the fuselage is just beyond that hill. And then the main rotor is just beyond that.”
Bryant often used the Sikorsky S-76B luxury twin-engine aircraft to beat the traffic on the notoriously clogged Los Angeles freeways.
He was headed to his sports academy to coach his daughter’s basketball game. He lived outside Los Angeles, in Newport Beach.
The pilot Ara Zobayan had more than 8,000 hours of flight time and had flown Bryant to various destinations in the Los Angeles area before.
Zobayan's last radio transmission to air traffic controllers was to advise that he was climbing to avoid a cloud layer.