Witness Account of Kobe Bryant Crash Reveals What Happened in Final Moments Before Impact

The investigation into the crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others continues. The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report which includes new details about the status of the helicopter before the crash. A witness account is also detailed in the report. Here’s what we know.

Preliminary report suggests helicopter was fully functional

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers smiles during the post-game news conference after scoring 60 points in the final game of his NBA career | Harry How/Getty Images

On Feb. 7, the National Transportation Safety Board offered its preliminary report detailing what they’ve found in the investigation that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others in the Jan. 26 crash.

Throughout 11 pages, investigators found the helicopter to be “fully operational.” The reasons listed include “damage consistent with powered rotation at the time of impact.”

The report continued: “The instrument panel was destroyed and most instruments were displaced from their panel mounts. Flight controls were fragmented and fire damaged,” suggesting a “post-crash fire” and likely not something mechanical that occurred on impact.

“The engines were recovered for detailed disassembly examination,” the NTSB said. “The helicopter was not equipped with a flight data recorder or cockpit voice recorder (CVR) nor was it required to be for the accident flight.”

Team members successfully located personal electronic devices and equipment. However, they’re not finished with their investigation.

“Additional information will be released as warranted,” the report added. A final report may take as long as a year.

Eye witness describes what happened in final moments before the crash

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A witness in the vicinity at the time of the crash is in the report saying the hillside was “surrounded by mist” at the time of impact.

“He said he began to hear the sound of a helicopter, which he described as appropriate for a helicopter flying while in a powered condition. He perceived the sound getting louder and saw a blue and white helicopter emerge from the clouds passing from left to right directly to his left,” they said.

The witness also “judged it to be moving fast, traveling on a forward and descending trajectory. It started to roll to the left such that he caught a glimpse of its belly. He observed it for one to two seconds, before it impacted terrain about 50 feet below his position.”

Memorial service for Bryant scheduled

Makeshift memorials for Bryant, as well as his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others are present around the nation. Now that all bodies have been identified and sent to their respective families, funeral arrangements have begun.

On Feb. 24, 2020, Bryant fans can honor the NBA player at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. It’s unclear at this point if the service will be televised.

Services for the other victims are scattered throughout February. They’ll likely be honored during the Bryant service as well.