Morning Brief: A Fateful Series Of Decisions Led To Kobe’s Final Moments
Good morning, L.A.
Just over a year ago, Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other people died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas.
At the time of the accident, it remained unclear why or how the crash happened. There was no black box, and those who knew the pilot testified to his skill and experience, noting that Bryant flew with him frequently.
Yesterday, though, experts with the National Transportation Safety Board revealed the conclusion of their investigation into the crash: They believe that the pilot, Ara Zorbayan, violated policy by attempting to navigate the helicopter through clouds, and likely became disoriented because he lost visual references, reports my colleague Emily Henderson. He then appears to have mistakenly turned the helicopter into a descent instead of an ascent, crashing it into the hillside.
In their initial investigation of the crash, federal experts who examined the scene said that Zorbayan climbed to 2,300 feet to avoid the clouds, but didn’t provide much more detail. He was operating the helicopter under airspace rules that required him to have a clear view of the ground at all times. An NTSB expert told LAist at the time that flying under those regulations is "very common.”
However, in a minute-by-minute recreation of the flight, Vanity Fair reporter Jeff Wise paints a picture of Kobe’s last trip as one that included unnecessary — and ultimately fatal — risks. Zorbayan’s attempt to pass through the layer of clouds was illegal, and he would have known as much. A series of decisions, from flying despite poor conditions to trying to navigate a low hillside pass, contributed to the crash.
In L.A., tributes to Kobe and all those who died on Jan. 26, 2020 came in the form of murals, memorials, spoken tributes, light displays, pictures in the sand, and much more. In the end, families lost loved ones, young lives were cut short, and L.A. lost a legend — but one whose legacy will live on.
Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.
What Else You Need To Know Today
- County public health director Barbara Ferrer called the number of Black Angelenos receiving the COVID-19 vaccine "shockingly low.”
- County officials moved to make vaccination sites more accessible by public transportation.
- City officials want Angelenos to know that first-dose vaccine appointments are available this week for those who qualify.
- The City Attorney rejected City Councilmember Joe Buscaino’s proposal to file a lawsuit seeking to force LAUSD to reopen.
- After accidentally calling Gov. Gavin Newsom the “former” governor of California, the White House Press Secretary tweeted that President Biden opposes the effort to recall Newsom.
- The 6.6 magnitude earthquake that killed 64 people and caused $500 million in damage struck Sylmar 50 years ago today.
- As part of our Black in L.A. series, a lifelong Angeleno who has ties across the city explores his duality as a Black man trying to survive and thrive in L.A.
- Gov. Newsom may have to pick a new state attorney general. Here are some of the contenders.
- A lawsuit accuses the city of Lancaster of illegally imposing huge fines on homeless and poor people in an effort to "punish poverty."
Before You Go … The Oscars Shortlist Is Here
The Academy Awards won’t be handed out until the end of April. But to make the selection process a little easier, committees within the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have released their shortlist of the best works in nine categories.
The abridged lists mean that thousands of Oscar voters will have far fewer submissions to sift through. In the Documentary Feature category, for example, the shortlist whittled 238 eligible movies down to 15 titles. Similarly, in the race for Best International Feature, submissions from 93 countries were trimmed to 15 contenders.
Take a look at some of the films that made the cut.
Help Us Cover Your Community
- Got something you’ve always wanted to know about Southern California and the people who call it home? Is there an issue you want us to cover? Ask us anything.
- Have a tip about news on which we should dig deeper? Let us know.
The news cycle moves fast. Some stories don't pan out. Others get added. Consider this today's first draft, and check LAist.com for updates on these stories and more. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Never miss an LAist story. Sign up for our daily newsletters.
Cruise off the highway and hit locally-known spots for some tasty bites.
Fentanyl and other drugs fuel record deaths among people experiencing homelessness in L.A. County. From 2019 to 2021, deaths jumped 70% to more than 2,200 in a single year.
This fungi isn’t a “fun guy.” Here’s what to do if you spot or suspect mold in your home.
Donald Trump was a fading TV presence when the WGA strike put a dent in network schedules.
Edward Bronstein died in March 2020 while officers were forcibly taking a blood sample after his detention.
A hike can be a beautiful backdrop as you build your connection with someone.