Where are the remains of Kobe and Gigi Bryant, and why haven't they been released to the family?

Close to a week after Kobe's and Gigi's tragic death in a helicopter crash, it is unclear if their bodies have been returned to their family; memorial service details too remain scarce


                            Where are the remains of Kobe and Gigi Bryant, and why haven't they been released to the family?
Kobe Bryant (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

With a memorial service for Kobe Bryant, both private and public, still seemingly far off, questions are being asked on social media and it appears numerous factors, including his body still being in the possession of authorities, are playing their part in this delay. Bryant, 41, his teenage daughter Gianna, 13, and seven others were aboard a helicopter chartered by Island Express Helicopters and heading to a basketball game last Sunday, January 26, when it crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California.

All the victims were subsequently taken to the forensic science center for official examination and identification, per the coroner’s office. And while it was all but confirmed that the NBA legend had died in the crash, it was only on Wednesday that the medical examiner officially identified his body, as well as those of the other victims.

In a press release, the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner also identified the other seven victims: Payton Chester, 13; John Altobelli, 56; Alyssa Altobelli, 14; Keri Altobelli, 46; Sarah Chester, 45; Christina Mauser, 38; and the pilot, Ara Zobayan, 50; 

Fans gather at LA Live to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant who died earlier in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020, in Los Angeles, California (Harry How/Getty Images)

The coroner's office had first identified Bryant, Altobelli, Chester, and Zobayan through their fingerprints, with the rest reportedly requiring "round-the-clock testing and analysis of DNA."

Body examinations were also performed on all nine victims and their causes of death were certified as blunt trauma. The manner of death was certified as an accident. It is still unclear if Bryant's and Gianna's bodies have been returned to their family, which could partly explain why there have not been any plans for a memorial service that has been made public as of yet. 

MEAWW also reported that sources with knowledge of the situation had said that the service was not likely to take place any time soon either.

One source, affiliated with the Los Angeles Exposition Park sports complex, said the memorial is "probably not for at least two weeks, maybe longer." Another source, also from inside one of Los Angeles' sporting venues, had similarly described the timing as "nearing weeks." 

Fans gather at LA Live to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant who died earlier in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020, in Los Angeles, California (Harry How/Getty Images)

The sources did not explicitly state the reason for the delay but suggested that the lack of availability of large venues and other previously scheduled sports and entertainment events were proving problematic. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has also come out to admit that the city has not been behind the planning of Bryant's funeral and that their primary concern was offering support to those who were planning it from his family.

While fans are clamoring for the service to be held at the Los Angeles Lakers' home, Staples Center -- where Bryant spent his entire professional playing career and won multiple NBA championships and an MVP award -- officials are said to not be too keen on the venue because of its relatively low capacity of 20,000.

Instead, they are said to be looking towards the LA Memorial Coliseum — which is home to the USC Trojans and the Los Angeles Rams — which can hold up to 80,000 people.

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