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Tuesday marks a year since a helicopter crash in Calabasas resulted in the tragic deaths of nine people, including Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.
The group were on their way to a basketball game at the Mamba Sports Academy near Thousand Oaks when the pilot crashed into a hill near Las Virgenes Road and Willow Glen Street shortly before 10 a.m.
Members of five families were killed in the crash, including Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, who planned to play in the game.
Orange Coast College head baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and their daughter Alyssa were also on board; Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton; assistant coach Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan.
As word of the crash spread, thousands began to gather at the LA Live complex adjacent to Staples Center, where Kobe played for the Lakers.
As night fell, fans always arrived with flowers, cards, letters and basketballs which became a huge memorial to the legendary player.
The crowd often sang “Kobe, Kobe”.
An investigation into the cause of the crash took center stage in the days that followed.
It was learned that Zobayan had low visibility while piloting the Sikorsky S-76B helicopter on the morning of January 26, 2020.
At one point, Zobayan told air traffic control that he was going to climb 4,000 feet to pass over an area of cloud. It was later determined that the helicopter was in fact descending when it struck the side of the hill.
In the year since the helicopter crash, Bryant’s wife Vanessa fought to improve helicopter safety and make warning systems mandatory on some flights, but legislation has took a long time to move forward amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday, the day before the anniversary of the accident, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Brad Sherman (D-Northridge) reintroduced the Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The bill would require terrain awareness warning systems, or TAWS, on all helicopters carrying six or more passengers.
“With the new Congress, we’re going to take another race at this,” Sherman said. “We are still facing dark days, so Congress will of course have to stay focused on crushing COVID and securing economic relief. But I’m pretty optimistic, we’ll get there in 2021, ”he said.
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