911 calls from moments after Kobe Bryant helicopter crash released

One caller reported hearing a helicopter sweep overhead in thick clouds, "and then I heard a pop, and it immediately stopped."
Image:
Firefighters work at the scene of a helicopter crash in which Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others were killed in Calabasas, Calif., on Jan. 26, 2020.Mark J. Terrill / AP

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By Drew Weisholtz

The Los Angeles County Fire Department has released 911 calls made after the helicopter carrying NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people crashed in Calabasas, California, last month, killing all nine people aboard.

“I could hear this plane, as if it was in the clouds but couldn’t see it, then we just heard a boom and a dead sound, and then I could see the flames,” one caller, who said he was hiking on a nearby trail, told an operator, according to audio obtained by NBC News.

“Whatever crashed into the hill is also on fire,” he added. “I think it was an airplane. A small plane.”

In another call, a man said he was at a grocery store about a quarter of a mile away when he heard the helicopter go down.

“A helicopter crashed into a mountain, we heard it, and now I’m looking at the flames,” he said.

“We’re looking at the flames right now on the hills,” he added.

Another man who called said cloud cover prevented him from knowing exactly what happened.

“I just heard a helicopter go over me, approximately from Lost Hills Road on a south to easterly sweep. It went over my head, it’s thick in clouds, and then I heard a pop, and it immediately stopped. I can’t see it,” he said.

Bryant, Gianna, 13, and seven others were flying in the Sikorsky S-76B chopper in dense fog when it went down around 40 minutes after taking off from John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which is conducting an investigation, has yet to provide a reason for what caused the crash, NBC Los Angeles affiliate KNBC reports. The station also reported the remains of all nine victims have been released to their families.

Jennifer Homendy, a member of the NTSB, said last week during a press conference that the chopper fell more than 2,000 feet per minute before it crashed, adding it was "a high-energy-impact crash.”