The bodies of Kobe and Gianna Bryant have been released to their family. Picture: Getty Images
The bodies of Kobe and Gianna Bryant have been released to their family. Picture: Getty Images

Bodies of Kobe, chopper victims released

The bodies of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the seven friends who died alongside them in a California helicopter crash have been released to their families, according to US reports.

The nine aboard the Sikorsky S-76B that crashed in thick fog in Calabasas on January 26 all died of blunt force trauma, including 50-year-old pilot Ara Zobayan, the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner has ruled.

Now all nine bodies have been released to their families while the US National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate the fiery crash, CNN said, citing the coroner's office.

Kobe and Gianna Bryant died, along with seven others, in a helicopter crash on January 26. Picture: AP
Kobe and Gianna Bryant died, along with seven others, in a helicopter crash on January 26. Picture: AP

They include basketball legend Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, who was also a rising basketball star, and their regular pilot, Ara Zobayan.

Also killed were girls' basketball coach Christina Mauser, 38; mom Sarah Chester, 45, and her 13-year-old daughter, Payton Chester; and college baseball coach John Altobelli, 56, his wife, Keri Altobelli, 46, and their 14-year-old daughter Alyssa Altobelli.

Vanessa Bryant, Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant and Natalia Bryant, pictured in 2017. Picture: Getty Images
Vanessa Bryant, Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant and Natalia Bryant, pictured in 2017. Picture: Getty Images


Mauser's husband, Matt Mauser, previously spoke of how close the group were, saying, "It was a family. They all really cared for each other.

"They were amazing people … They were wonderful, they were warm," he told the Today show. "They loved their kids and they were so proud that their kids were growing."

 

Investigators work at the scene of a helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others, in Calabasas. Picture: AP
Investigators work at the scene of a helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others, in Calabasas. Picture: AP

The group was expected at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks for a basketball game on the day the helicopter crashed about 50km northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

It comes as several callers to emergency services reported hearing loud booms and seeing flames after the California helicopter crash that killed the NBA legend and eight others, according to audio released by the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Some callers reported either hearing or seeing an aircraft plunge into the hilly terrain of Calabasas about 9.45am (4.45am AEDT) on January 26, according to US reports.

 

Jesse Reyes Zaragoza writes a message on a memorial display of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. Picture: AP
Jesse Reyes Zaragoza writes a message on a memorial display of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. Picture: AP

According to the New York Post, one caller, a man, was walking on a trail when he heard Bryant's Sikorsky S-76 chopper go down above him - mistaking it for a plane.

"I can hear this plane, I think it was in the clouds," he told the dispatcher, according to the recording.

"We couldn't see it - and then we just heard a boom, and a dead sound. Then I can see the flames," the man says.

 

Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant are honored along with all of the helicopter crash victims before the Super Bowl. Picture: AP
Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant are honored along with all of the helicopter crash victims before the Super Bowl. Picture: AP


Another caller, at a nearby supermarket in Agoura Hills, reported to the dispatchers that a "helicopter crashed into a mountain."

"We heard it, and I'm now looking at the flames," said the man, who was close to the crash site.

 

IAn investigator at the scene of the crash. Picture: AP
IAn investigator at the scene of the crash. Picture: AP

This story was originally published in the New York Post and is reprinted with permission.



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