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Morning Brief: A Fateful Series Of Decisions Led To Kobe’s Final Moments

It's Kobe Bryant Day in L.A. and Orange County. He played his final game as a Laker on April 13, 2016, taking on the Utah Jazz at Staples Center. (Harry How/Getty Images)
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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.

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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

Before You Go … The Oscars Shortlist Is Here

(Kristian Dowling/Getty Images)

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.

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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.

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