On January 26, 2020, the world was stunned to learn that basketball legend Kobe Bryant had died in a horrific helicopter crash. The Lakers star, 41, and his daughter Gianna, 13, were among seven others who died when their helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California, en route to a basketball game in Newbury Park. The sun reported.
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More than two years after the tragic incident, shocking details about the crash and immediate aftermath have been revealed.
This week, Kobe’s widow Vanessa was awarded $16 million ($A23.1 million) against the Los Angeles County Sheriff and Fire Department for violating her rights when staff shared horrific photos of her husband’s dead body.
Although the National Transportation Safety Board has released their findings on the deadly crash, the lawsuit has reignited debate over the accident.
Here we look at some of the questions surrounding the disaster.
What caused the crash?
Last year, the NTSB released its findings about the accident, saying it was likely that the pilot’s “spatial disorientation” was the cause of the crash.
Spatial disorientation is when a person is unable to determine their position or movement due to poor vision.
According to the report, experienced pilot Ara Zoboyan informed air traffic controllers shortly before the disaster that he was climbing the Sikorsky S-76B helicopter out of heavy clouds.
In reality, however, the plane made a rapid descent into a hill.
According to an analysis by the Los Angeles Times: “As Zobayan approached the hills of Calabasas at a speed of 150 mph, air traffic control radioed him and told him he was too low to be seen on radar.
“Four minutes later, the pilot advised that he was climbing to avoid a cloud layer. It rose about 250 feet in less than a minute and then began a descending turn before hitting the slope.
At the time, NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said, “We’ll discuss the phenomenon of spatial disorientation, the powerful, deceptive sensations that can confuse a pilot performing visual flight and losing visual references, and what types of training can be effective to counteract it.” effect.”
There were no signs of engine failure or any other technical malfunction.
Was it an ‘illegal flight’?
Air authorities have reported that the pilot has been given strict orders not to enter the clouds during the flight.
This was so the helicopter could maintain an altitude where it could see at least half a mile of the trail ahead.
Due to the weather conditions, Zoboyan told authorities that he wanted to go above the cloud tops where he could see for miles ahead.
In order to do this, however, he would have to climb through 150 meters of clouds, which would damage his vision and go against the rules.
It was later revealed that nine months before the incident, Zaboyan had undergone training to avoid the exact scenario of the plane crashing.
Island Express Helicopters was only certified for flights under visual flight rules, or VFR — and Zobayan flew under special visual flight rules, The New York Times reported.
According to reports last year, the pilot put additional pressure on himself to get Kobe in the game because of his high-profile status.
Sumwalt said: “The scenario we think happened, he’s flying on, he realizes he’s kind of getting boxed in with vision and then he must have made the decision, ‘You know, I’m just going through these clouds and go upstairs.'”
It was made clear that Kobe himself had not exerted any pressure on the pilot.
Did delay contribute to the accident?
According to a report from Business Insider, the pilot was ordered to remain in flight for about 11 minutes because another plane was due to land nearby.
The hold, which started at around 9:21 am, allowed two other aircraft to land.
The pilot then reported that he would circle Glendale, a California town, to await further instructions.
There is speculation as to whether the delay may have forced the pilot into an unfamiliar area, as the plane had made the exact same journey the day before with no delays.
Is there a death photo?
After the star’s death, reports began to circulate that the responding officers had taken and shared graphic photos of his dead body.
This prompted his wife Vanessa to sue the Los Angeles County Sheriff and Fire Department for invasion of privacy and emotional distress.
During the trial, it was revealed that an officer had shared the photos with a bartender in a lounge.
When lawyers questioned the bar staff during his testimony at the trial, he confirmed that he had seen a photo of the athlete and added that “there were only parts”.
According to autopsy reports, Kobe died of blunt force trauma with catastrophic brain injury and suffered 30 percent burns to his body.
It was also revealed that another deputy had shared the footage while playing video games, while another had shared them with a complete stranger.
Lawyers also argued that a photo of Kobe’s body may still exist as an officer dropped them by AirDrop on a firefighter who has still not been identified.
According to court documents, the bosses only scrambled to get the photos destroyed as a means of limiting the damage, because they knew there would be an intense backlash.
While the photos have not been leaked to the general public, Vanessa told the jury that she now lives in constant fear that they would one day appear on social media.
She said: “I want to remember my husband and my daughter as they were. I never want to see these pictures again. I have three little girls.”
Christopher Chester, whose wife and daughter also died in the crash and was a co-plaintiff in the case, was awarded $15 million ($A21.7 million).
Is there a video?
After the superstar’s death, a number of conspiracies were shared online, leading to a slew of hoaxes.
These include fabricated details, false implications, and videos taken out of context.
A fake video released on social media purporting to show the deadly crash has since been debunked by authorities.
The posts were flagged by Facebook as part of the platform’s efforts to fight misinformation.
Another bizarre, misleading claim indicated that his death was planned and facilitated by Hillary and Bill Clinton.
The claims, pushed by Bishop Larry Gaiters, who has appeared regularly on QAnon podcasts, were dropped and criticized by social media users for being offensive.
This story first appeared in The sun and republished with permission.
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