Kobe Bryant remembered 1 year after Calabasas helicopter crash that killed 9

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Tuesday marks one year since a helicopter crash in Calabasas resulted in the tragic deaths of nine people, including Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.

The group was on their way to a basketball game at the Mamba Sports Academy in nearby Thousand Oaks when the pilot crashed into a hillside near Las Virgenes Road and Willow Glen Street shortly before 10 a.m.

Members of five families were killed in the crash, including Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, who was planning to play in the game.

Kobe and Gianna Bryant attend the WNBA All-Star Game 2019 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 27, 2019, in Las Vegas. (Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Kobe and Gianna Bryant attend the WNBA All-Star Game 2019 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 27, 2019, in Las Vegas. (Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Also on the flight was Orange Coast College head baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and their daughter Alyssa; Sarah Chester and her daughter, Payton; assistant coach Christina Mauser and the pilot Ara Zobayan.

As news of the crash spread, thousands of people began to gather at the L.A. Live complex adjacent to Staples Center, where Kobe played for the Lakers.

By nightfall, fans were still arriving with flowers, cards, letters and basketballs that grew into a massive memorial for the legendary player.

The crowd would often break into chants of “Kobe, Kobe.”

Fans gather outside Staples Center on Jan. 26, 2020 to mourn the death of Kobe Bryant.(Credit: Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
Fans gather outside Staples Center on Jan. 26, 2020 to mourn the death of Kobe Bryant.(Credit: Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

An investigation into the cause of the crash took center stage in the following days.

It was learned that Zobayan was experiencing low visibility while flying the Sikorsky S-76B helicopter the morning of Jan. 26, 2020.  

At one point, Zobayan told air traffic control he was going to climb to 4,000 feet to get above a patch of clouds. It was later determined the helicopter was actually descending when it hit the hillside.

In the year since the helicopter crash, Bryant’s wife Vanessa has fought to improve helicopter safety and make warning systems mandatory on some flights, but legislation has been slow to move forward amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Vanessa Bryant speaks during The Celebration of Life for Kobe & Gianna Bryant at Staples Center on February 24, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Vanessa Bryant speaks during The Celebration of Life for Kobe & Gianna Bryant at Staples Center on February 24, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

On Monday, the eve of the anniversary of the crash, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Northridge) reintroduced the Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The bill would require terrain awareness warning systems, or TAWS, on all helicopters that carry six or more passengers.

“With the new Congress, we’re going to take another run at this,” Sherman said. “We still face some dark days ahead, so Congress is of course going to have to remain focused on crushing COVID and getting economic relief done. But I am fairly optimistic we will get this done in 2021,” he said.

A view of the screen during a tribute to victims of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant during the BET Super Bowl Gospel Celebration at the James L. Knight Center on January 30, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images for BET)

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