Police confirm nine people dead following Kobe Bryant helicopter crash
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has confirmed that a total of nine people have died after a helicopter crash on Sunday.
Following initial reports that former professional basketball player Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Sunday in Calabasas, California, Los Angeles officials have revealed new information.
Speaking at a press conference at 2.30pm PST (10.30pm GMT), Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva confirmed that nine people died in the crash.
"We're awaiting the arrival of the coroner's office to assist in the recovery of the remains," Villanueva said.
"As the [fire] chief indicated, there were no survivors. We have a manifest that indicates that there was nine people on board the aircraft - the pilot plus eight individuals.
"There is wide speculation as to who the identities are. However, it would be entirely inappropriate right now to identify anyone by name until the coroner has made the identification."
Villanueva noted that the process is to first inform next of kin of the results.
"It would be extremely disrespectful to understand that your loved one has perished and you learn about it from TMZ. That is just wholly inappropriate so we're not going to be going there. We are going to wait until the coroner does their job and we are assisting the families of those who believe that they have been impacted.
"It's a tough process and our hope goes out to all of the family members of everyone who was on board this aircraft. God bless their souls."
Villanueva concluded his statement shortly after, underlining that no information can be released publicly until the next of kin have been informed.
Speaking before him, Chief Daryl Osboy of the Los Angeles County Fire Department noted that the department deployed 15 pieces of apparatus and 56 personnel in response to the incident.
Once on scene, firefighters hiked to the accident site with medical equipment in tow where they tackled a fire that resulted from the helicopter crash before searching for survivors.
"Unfortunately, all the survivors on board were determined to have perished," Osboy said.
Tributes quickly poured in for Kobe Bryant from the world of sports and entertainment and beyond once the initial news broke, with the likes of Barack Obama, Kanye West and Taylor Swift among many paying their respects:
Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 26, 2020
Kobe, We love you brother
We’re praying for your family and appreciate the life you’ve lived and all the inspiration you gave pic.twitter.com/pxbgLOOmpY
— ye (@kanyewest) January 26, 2020
My heart is in pieces hearing the news of this unimaginable tragedy. I can’t fathom what the families are going through. Kobe meant so much to me and to us all. Sending my prayers, love, and endless condolences to Vanessa and the family and anyone who lost someone on that flight.
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) January 26, 2020
A statement issued by the National Basketball Players Association noted the "monumental loss" of the iconic Los Angeles Lakers player.
"We are stunned and devastated by the news of the sudden passing of Kobe Bryant," the statement began.
"Words cannot express his impact on our players, the NBA and the game of basketball. This is a monumental loss for the entire basketball community and our hearts are quite simply broken.
"We send love and prayers out to his wife Vanessa and the entire family."
During the game between the Toronto Raptors and the San Antonio Spurs, players united to put the ball out of play in order to honour Bryant:
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 26, 2020