Kobe Bryant flew 45 minutes earlier than originally planned on the day he and eight others died in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles, preliminary findings of an investigation into the incident have revealed.
In an interview with investigators, Bryant’s personal assistant Cate Brady revealed Bryant had asked to have his flight brought forward from 9.45am to 9am so he could watch an earlier game in a youth basketball tournament his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was playing in.
“That particular day, for Sunday, I actually changed the time the night before, probably around 6pm or 7pm,” Brady said, per a 1700-page report released by the National Transportation Safety Board on Thursday.
“Because Kobe had decided he wanted to go to watch another team play before his game. So it was supposed to be a 9.45am departure, but the night before we changed it to a 9am departure.”
Gianna’s games were scheduled for 12pm and 2pm.
Bryant was known to be so passionate about junior women’s basketball — and his daughter’s dream of one day playing in the WNBA — that he’d often watch games she wasn’t playing in to scout opponents or support the children of fellow former NBA players.
But after the decision to leave early on Sunday, January 26, the helicopter encountered heavy fog near Calabasas.
The pilot told air traffic controllers he was trying to climb out of the fog before it slammed into a hillside, killing everyone on board.
Pilot Ara Zobayan radioed to air traffic control that he was climbing to 4000 feet but no further communication was heard from that point.
Bryant’s assistant was asked by investigators if “Kobe or his people push back and give you a hard time” if a flight ever had to be cancelled because of weather conditions.
Brady said: “I don’t want to answer that question because it’s never occurred. If there was an issue, I have been Kobe’s assistant for long enough to volunteer to drive him. But we’ve never had that happen, so I don’t know the exact answer to that.”
The NTSB, which is continuing to investigate the crash, stressed the “public docket” was not a final report “nor does it contain analysis, findings, recommendations, or probable cause determinations.” “As such, no conclusions about how or why the crash occurred should be drawn from the information within the docket,” the NTSB said.
“Analysis, findings, recommendations, and probable cause determinations related to the crash will be issued by the NTSB in a final report at a later date.”
— with AP