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Kobe Bryant crash investigators may need 18 months to determine cause of helicopter disaster

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Kobe Bryant crash investigators may need EIGHTEEN MONTHS to determine cause of helicopter disaster – as wreckage is airlifted from California hillside

  • Investigators say a preliminary report on the facts will be issued in 10 days
  • But establishing the cause of the helicopter crash may take until July 2021 
  • The nine bodies have been handed over to medical examiners for identification 

Investigators may need 18 months to determine the cause of the helicopter crash which killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant. 

The National Transportation Safety Board says a preliminary report on the facts will be issued in 10 days – but a final report will take much longer. 

NTSB investigators said yesterday they had finished their inspection of the crash site after combing through the wreckage and flying drones to replicate the flight path. 

The nine bodies have been handed over to medical examiners who have already identified Bryant’s remains by his fingerprints. 

The wreckage of the helicopter which crashed on Sunday is airlifted off the hillside by another helicopter yesterday

The wreckage of the helicopter which crashed in California on Sunday – killing Kobe Bryant and eight others – is airlifted off the hillside by another helicopter yesterday

Debris from the helicopter crash is driven away on the back of a truck after investigators finished their work on the hillside where the helicopter came down

Debris from the helicopter crash is driven away on the back of a truck after investigators finished their work on the hillside where the helicopter came down

NTSB official Jennifer Homendy said the ‘probable cause’ for the accident may not be confirmed for 12 to 18 months. 

That means the final report into Sunday’s crash is unlikely to be published this year and could be late as July 2021. 

After inspecting the crash site, investigators have airlifted the helicopter’s wreckage onto trucks which took it to a secure location. 

The twisted, charred wreckage of the helicopter was scattered over a wide area of 600 feet after the impact. 

Homendy described the accident as a ‘high energy impact crash,’ having earlier labelled the crash scene as ‘pretty devastating.’ 

‘We are done on the site,’ she said yesterday. 

With the crash site becoming a pilgrimage point for fans, police on horseback and all-terrain vehicles have been brought in to secure the area.  

An iPad, cellphone and maintenance records were found among the wreckage, along with ‘everything we would expect would be on the aircraft,’ Homendy said. 

However, the aircraft did not have a terrain awareness and warning system which could have alerted the pilot that he was heading for the hillside. 

The NTSB recommended in 2004 that the system be compulsory for helicopters with six or more passengers, but the FAA does not require it. 

NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna (pictured together in July 2019) were among nine people killed in Sunday's helicopter tragedy

NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna (pictured together in July 2019) were among nine people killed in Sunday’s helicopter tragedy 

Investigators comb the debris of the Sikorsky helicopter which crashed in thick fog on Sunday

Investigators comb the debris of the Sikorsky helicopter which crashed in thick fog on Sunday

One of the wheels of the helicopter is seen at the crash site where investigators have been searching for evidence

One of the wheels of the helicopter is seen at the crash site where investigators have been searching for evidence 

Yesterday the coroner’s office said all nine bodies have been retrieved from the site and ‘transported to the department’s forensic science center’ for examination.

Medical examiners identified the body of Kobe Bryant, who frequently flew to Lakers games by helicopter, using fingerprints. 

The bodies of pilot Ara Zobayan, baseball coach John Altobelli and Sarah Chester have also been identified.

The remaining five victims – including Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna – have not yet been formally identified.

They were named as Altobelli’s wife Keri and their daughter Alyssa, who played basketball with Gianna; Sarah Chester’s daughter Payton; and basketball coach Christina Mauser.   

The other passengers on the flight – who have not yet been officially identified – have been named as Altobelli’s wife Keri, and their daughter Alyssa, who played basketball at the same club as Gianna.

Christina Mauser, an assistant coach of the Mamba girls’ basketball team, was also killed along with Payton Chester, Sarah’s daughter.

People gather in front of a mural in Los Angeles yesterday which depicts Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who was a basketball prodigy in her own right

People gather in front of a mural in Los Angeles yesterday which depicts Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who was a basketball prodigy in her own right

Mourners leave tributes at a mural for Kobe and Gianna Bryant following the air disaster in California on Sunday

Mourners leave tributes at a mural for Kobe and Gianna Bryant following the air disaster in California on Sunday 

The death of Bryant – a five-time NBA champion for the Lakers and double Olympic gold medalist – has shocked the world, with tributes continuing to pour in yesterday. 

Grieving fans yesterday placed bouquets of flowers at a makeshift memorial in in Newport Beach where Bryant lived.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said a tribute to Bryant would be included in next month’s Oscars ceremony.

The star, who won an Academy Award in 2018 for animated short film ‘Dear Basketball,’ had been honored with a moment’s silence at the Oscar nominees’ lunch on Monday.

A petition for the NBA logo to be redesigned with Bryant’s likeness had reached two million signatures by Tuesday afternoon.

The NBA postponed Tuesday’s Lakers game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Basketball superstar LeBron James said he was ‘heartbroken and devastated’ over Bryant’s death in an emotional Instagram post.

Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic donned a jersey bearing Bryant’s initials and shirt numbers at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne.  

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