HEAR IT: 911 calls detail moments before and after Kobe Bryant helicopter crash, confirm thick clouds

Newly released 911 calls confirm Kobe Bryant’s doomed helicopter was flying in thick clouds before it crashed on Jan. 26, killing the NBA star, his daughter and seven others.

The calls to the Los Angeles County Fire Department detail just how bad visibility was as the helicopter collided with a hilltop in Calabasas, Calif., and burst into flames.

“I just heard a helicopter go over me approximately from Lost Hills Road on a south to easterly sweep. It went over my head. It’s thick in clouds. And then I just, I heard a pop, and it immediately stopped,” one witness on the ground told a dispatcher.

“That part of the top of the mountain is obstructed in clouds,” he added.

“It came right over me,” he explained. “I was just thinking to myself, if this guy doesn't have night vision, I mean, he was completely, he's completely IFR, instrument flight rules. He’s flying, and he’s got no visual.”

Another man on the ground thought the helicopter was actually a small plane because he couldn’t identify it through the clouds.

“I’m walking on the trail. I could hear the plane, I think it was, in the clouds. We couldn't see it. And then we just heard a ‘boom’ and a dead sound, and then I could see the flames,” he said.

Another man was standing outside an Erewhon grocery store when he called.

“A helicopter crashed into a mountain. We heard it. And now I’m looking at the flames,” the man told the dispatcher. “We’re looking at the flames right now on the hill.”

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the devastating crash and expected to release a preliminary report in the coming days.

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NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna
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NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 14: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Western Conference kisses daughter Gianna Bryant during the NBA All-Star Game 2016 at the Air Canada Centre on February 14, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Former Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna watch during the U.S. national championships swimming meet Thursday, July 26, 2018, in Irvine, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna watch the first half of an NCAA college basketball game between Connecticut and Houston, Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Storrs, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 29: Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant attend a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center on December 29, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 29: Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant attend a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center on December 29, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 29: Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant attend a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center on December 29, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 17: Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant attend a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Atlanta Hawks at Staples Center on November 17, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 17: Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant attend a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Atlanta Hawks at Staples Center on November 17, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 27: Gianna Bryant and her father, former NBA player Kobe Bryant, attend the WNBA All-Star Game 2019 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 27, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
IRVINE, CA - JULY 26: Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant watch during day 2 of the Phillips 66 National Swimming Championships at the Woollett Aquatics Center on July 26, 2018 in Irvine, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 14: Gianna Bryant, daughter of Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Western Conference, handles the ball during warm ups before the NBA All-Star Game 2016 at the Air Canada Centre on February 14, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 14: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Western Conference warms up with daughter Gianna Bryant during the NBA All-Star Game 2016 at the Air Canada Centre on February 14, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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At a press briefing last week, NTSB officials confirmed the chopper was not equipped with a terrain alarm system that might have alerted pilot Ara Zobayan that he was close to contacting the nearby hillside. Such a system was recommended but not required.

NTSB member Jennifer Homendy also said the pilot’s steep descent shortly before impact was at a rate of “over 2,000 feet per minute.”

“So we know this was a high-energy impact crash, and the helicopter was in a descending left bank,” Homendy said.

“This is a pretty steep descent at high speed, so it wouldn’t be a normal landing speed,” she said.

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