Colbert shares emotional connection to Kobe's crash, makes plea for change


On The Late Show With Stephen Colbert Tuesday night, Colbert, who was off Monday, addressed the helicopter crash that claimed the life of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others on Sunday morning in Southern California amid heavy fog. Colbert said he feels a connection to the families of the victims, and for the most heartbreaking of reasons.

“I never got a chance to meet him, but I do feel a strange connection in this moment. One that I wouldn’t wish on anybody,” Colbert said, before naming all of the passengers aboard the helicopter and explaining why he feels that strange connection to their families. “I lost my father and two of my brothers when I was a boy to a plane crash that was also in heavy fog,” Colbert explained.

Colbert went on to say that rules were changed following the crash that took his father and brothers because of the recording on the black box that was on board the plane. But on a recent trip to New Zealand, Colbert’s helicopter pilot, Choppy, informed him that most helicopters, like the one Kobe was on, don’t have black boxes.

“I think it’s crazy that helicopters don’t have black box recorders because, as Choppy explained to me, when a helicopter goes down, we don’t know how to improve the helicopter,” Colbert said. “We don’t know how to improve the flying of the pilots so this won’t happen again.”

And Colbert implored the National Transportation Safety Board to improve standards for helicopters.

“I hope the NTSB will do something to improve the conditions for helicopter pilots and the information they can get if a tragedy like this happens,” Colbert said. “Because these people are now in misery. Why compound their misery with mystery.”

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. on CBS.

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