Thirteen-year-old Gianna “Gigi” Bryant died alongside her father, NBA legend, as confirmed by sports journalist Adrian Wojnarowski.
The 41-year-old athlete was on his way to a basketball game with his daughter and seven other passengers and crew when their Sikorsky S-76 helicopter slammed into a rugged hillside in Calabasas, west of Los Angeles. There were no survivors.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said eight passengers and the pilot of the aircraft died in the accident.
“There were no survivors… There were nine people on board the aircraft, the pilot plus eight individuals,” Villanueva said.
The helicopter crashed in foggy weather in the Los Angeles suburb of Calabasas. Authorities said firefighters received a call at 9:47 am about the crash, which caused a brush fire on a hillside.
The Los Angeles Times quoted police as saying that weather conditions were such that the Los Angeles Police Department´s air support division grounded its helicopters until the afternoon, when the fog lifted.
“The weather situation did not meet our minimum standards for flying,” said police spokesman Josh Rubenstein.
Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said firefighters had to hike to the site with medical equipment and hose lines to extinguish the blaze.
Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist, is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players in history.
Father-of-four Bryant and his teenage daughter were later confirmed amongst the nine fatalities. No further information on the identities of the pilot and six other passengers was released.
Bryant’s death sent shockwaves throughout the world, with basketball stars left stunned by the news.