Emergency calls from the night of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant have been released, with witnesses describing hearing a loud explosion followed by flames.
Previously released audio from air traffic control confirmed fog was an issue with the pilot asking for flight following – a form of constant monitoring used during periods of poor visibility.
And the newly released 911 calls back that up, with one witness telling emergency services: “I’m walking in the trail, I could hear the plane.
“I think it was in the clouds but couldn’t see it. Then we just heard a boom and a dead sound and then I could see the flames.”
Another caller said: “A helicopter crashed into a mountain. We heard it, and now I’m looking at the flames.”
In the audio, released by the Los Angeles County Fire Department, one person said: “It went over my head. It’s thick in clouds. And then I heard a pop and it immediately stopped.
“If this guy doesn’t have night vision, I mean, he was, he’s completely IFR,” the caller said, referring to instrument flight rules.
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Former Los Angeles Lakers star Bryant died along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people in the helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday, 26 January.
The twin-engine Sikorsky S-76B slammed into a hill in an accident that still has many of the basketball great’s fans grieving, with more public memorials to come.
Bryant won five championships in his 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, retiring as the third leading scorer in the history of the National Basketball Association.
He also won an Oscar for his short animated film Dear Basketball.
The remains of all the victims were released to their families on Monday.
A preliminary report on the crash is expected within a week.