'You're Too Low': Voice Recording Moments Before Kobe Bryant, Daughter Died In Helicopter Crash Released
The pilot of a helicopter that crashed on Monday morning, killing Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others was warned he was "flying too low" before the accident.
A leaked voice recording from the flight tower revealed the pilot had circled an area close to LA Zoo six times at a very low altitude.
"You're still too low level for a flight flying at this time," the pilot was told.
The morning of the crash had been extremely foggy and visibility was so low that even LAPD air support was grounded.
“The weather situation did not meet our minimum standards for flying,” Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Josh Rubenstein said.
The pilot had been flying around the area for about 15 minutes and may have been waiting for the fog to clear.
He contacted the control tower at Burbank Airport at around 9.30am (local time) before the chopper flew into a mountain at about 518 metres, flying at a speed of 296 kilometres per hour.
Bryant and his daughter Gianna Maria Onore had been travelling to the Mamba Academy -- which he founded -- for basketball practice when the crash occurred, CBS confirmed.
Authorities said the ex-Lakers player was one of nine people killed when his helicopter went down, resulting in a quarter-acre fire.
In a press conference on Monday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said eight passengers and a pilot were killed but declined to comment on the identities of those on board.
Girls basketball coach Christina Mauser, who was married to Tijuana Dogs singer Matt Mauser, was killed in the crash, the Mayor of Costa Mesa Katrina Foley confirmed on Twitter.
Her husband wrote on Facebook "My kids and I are devastated. We lost our beautiful wife and mom today in a helicopter crash. Please respect our privacy. Thank you for all the well wishes they mean so much."
Baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa, who was Gianna's teammate, were also confirmed to be among the victims of the crash by Orange Coast College, where he worked.
"John meant so much to not only Orange Coast College, but to baseball,” Coast Athletic Director Jason Kehler wrote in a statement.
"The passion that he put into the game, but more importantly his athletes, was second to none - he treated them like family," Kehler said.
Gianna was a rising basketball star and Bryant had previously been involved in coaching her team.
The basketball legend was a father of four daughters, Gianna, Natalia, and Bianca, as well as newborn Capri.
The Federal Aviation Administration said a Sikorsky S-76B helicopter crashed at 10am local time under unknown circumstances.
The helicopter reportedly crashed on a hill behind Kourtney Kardashian's Californian home.
As authorities investigate the cause of the crash, Sikorsky expressed their "sincerest condolences" to Bryant's family on Twitter.
"We have been in contact with the NTSB and stand ready to provide assistance and support to the investigative authorities and our customer," Sikorsky wrote.
"Safety is our top priority; if there are any actionable findings from the investigation, we will inform our S-76 customers," they added.
In a later press conference, chief medical examiner for the County of Los Angeles said the recovery of the bodies may take "a few days" because of the terrain and the condition of the site.
"Our priority is completing the recovery as quickly as possible, but safely and thoroughly, and doing that to make sure our staff are safe," Dr Jonathan Lucas said.
"We offer our condolences to the families... and I just want to reassure everybody we're doing everything we can to confirm identifications and give closure to the families involved."
The 41-year-old was one of the greatest basketball players in history and was a five-time National Basketball Association (NBA) champion and until Saturday was the third-leading scorer in history.
At 34 years old, Bryant became the youngest player in NBA history to surpass the 30,000 point mark.
On Saturday, LeBron James passed Kobe to become third on the all-time NBA scoring list.
His last post on Instagram paid tribute to James and said "On to #2 @kingjames! Keep growing the game and charting the path for the next."
Twitter has been flooded with tributes to the NBA great, with hundreds mourning the loss of the 18-time All-Star.
NBA giant Shaquille O'Neal took to Twitter to express his grief over the tragic accident.
"There's no words to express the pain I'm going through...I'm sick right now," he wrote.
"I would hug his children like they were my own and he would embrace my kids like they were his. His baby girl Gigi was born on the same day as my youngest daughter Me'Arah," he added in another tweet.
US President Donald Trump wrote it was "terrible news", while NFL Super Bowl champion Tom Brady said "We miss you already Kobe".
Former US President Barack Obama called Bryant a "legend on the court" and sent "love and prayers" to his family.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the basketball league is "devastated".
"For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning.... But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball," Silver wrote.
"He was generous with the wisdom he acquired... taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna," he added.
At the Staples Centre in LA, the home venue of the Lakers, fans gathered to lay flowers and pay emotional tributes in memory of Bryant and his daughter on Monday.
As news of his death spread, NBA teams honoured Bryant during their games today.
The Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers all let their 24-second shot-clock run out as a sign of respect to the player.
Los Angeles Airport, LAX, will be lit up in purple and gold to pay tribute to the ex-Lakers player.
The Grammy Awards are also planning to honour the basketball great during the ceremony this evening.
More to come.