Gianna's body was found in ravine away from Kobe Bryant's, autopsy says wreckage was littered with body parts
Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others who died after their helicopter crashed into a mountainside in Calabasas, California, on January 26 sustained immediate fatal injuries in the accident, autopsies have revealed.
Reports released by the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office, obtained by ESPN, put into light how brutal the crash was and described broken bones, dismembered body parts, and a stench of fuel on what remains of clothing that burned.
Bryant and the other seven passengers, including one of his daughter's coaches and two of her teammates, were headed to Orange County to his daughter's tournament at his Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks when they encountered thick fog in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles.
The pilot, Ara Zobayan, an experienced operator who regularly flew Bryant, reportedly climbed sharply and had almost succeeded in breaking through the clouds when the helicopter took an abrupt left and plummeted into the hills below.
When it struck the ground, it had been traveling at around 184 miles per hour and descending at the rate of more than 4,000 feet per minute, with the impact resulting in a crater and scattering debris over an area the size of a football field.
While flames engulfed the wreckage, the burns on the bodies of the passengers, all of whom died instantly due to blunt trauma, were determined to have been occurred after death. "These injuries are rapidly if not instantly fatal," wrote Juan Carrillo, a senior deputy medical examiner, in Kobe's report.
Kobe's body was found on one side of the wreckage, according to the autopsy report, and his daughter was found in a ravine on the opposite side. He had to be identified by the fingerprints.
However, though he was unrecognizable, a forensic examination noted a tattoo of a crown on his right shoulder, above where his wife's name, Vanessa, was inked. It also noted the names of three of his four daughters, Bianka Bella, Natalie Diamante, and Gianna Maria-Onore, on his lower right arm, and that he was wearing "multicolored court shoes." His youngest daughter, Capri Kobe, is not mentioned.
Examiners found methylphenidate in the basketballer's system. Sold under the brand name Ritalin, it is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy.
MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) had previously reported that the autopsy had concluded that the Zobayan had no alcohol or drugs in his system. Toxicology reports had screened and tested for cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, marijuana, and alcohol, reports from the LA County coroner revealed.
Ultimately, the crash that killed all nine was considered accidental, but the National Transportation Safety Board has not yet concluded what caused it. They said there was no sign of mechanical failure in the helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76.
The agency did highlight that it did not have a terrain awareness and warning system, which signals when an aircraft is in danger of hitting the ground. The NTSB has recommended that the system be mandatory for helicopters, but the Federal Aviation Administration mandates it for just Air Ambulances.