Five 911 calls placed in the moments after Kobe Bryant’s helicopter went down with his daughter and seven others on board were released Monday.
Multiple callers described thick fog, telling Los Angeles County fire dispatchers they could hear but not see the aircraft crash before flames broke out in the hills above Calabasas.
Crews were dispatched to the 4200 block of Las Virgenes Road around 9:50 a.m. Jan. 26. A paramedic who dropped into the crash site’s rugged terrain by helicopter soon determined there were no survivors.
Call No. 1
Fire officials did not provide a timestamp, but said the first call came from a man reporting a brush fire just east of Las Virgenes Road and A.E. Wright Middle School. He says he sees flames and smoke, and the dispatcher tells him, “We’re on our way up now.”
When she relays the message, the official she speaks to is already aware the fire is the result of a downed aircraft.
Call No. 2
The next call came from a man hiking on a trail in the area of Las Virgenes Road.
“I could hear this plane, as if it was in the clouds but couldn’t see it,” he says. “Then we just heard a boom and a dead sound, and I could see the flames.”
He said the hill was on fire, “but whatever crashed into the hill is also on fire.”
In the background, you can hear other dispatchers discussing the same incident.
Call No. 3
The third call came from a man at the Erewhon Market on Agoura Road in Calabasas. He says he heard a helicopter crash into the mountain, “and now I’m looking at the flames.”
By the end of the call, he says he can hear the sirens of vehicles responding to the incident.
Call No. 4
A man at 4235 Las Virgenes Road, near the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, says the helicopter was headed east when it passed right overhead.
“It’s thick in clouds. And then I heard a pop, and it immediately stopped,” he tells the dispatcher.
He believes it went into the highest peak to the east, west side of Calabasas Park, but the top of the mountain was obstructed in clouds. When asked if it went down around Mulholland Drive, he replies, “It went down quicker than that.”
The caller mentions his concern over the helicopter’s equipment. “I was just thinking to myself, if this guy doesn’t have night vision, he’s completely IFR,” he says, referring to the instrument flight rules that govern aviation.
Call No. 5
The fifth call is placed by the same man who made the first, wanting to clarify where the aircraft went down. He’s en route to the water district officers, telling the dispatcher he believes it’s a quarter mile up the hill from there.
“I’m not there to the street yet. I’m driving by, they keep driving by,” he says of the first responders searching for the location.
He adds that he can still see the flames.