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Kobe Bryant's pilot thought the helicopter was climbing as it crashed into a mountain: report

The crash killed Bryant, his daughter, and seven others

A screen displays Kobe and daughter Gianna's names during the "Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant" service at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles on Feb. 24, 2020. Kobe Bryant, 41, and 13-year-old Gianna were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash Jan. 26 in the rugged hills west of Los Angeles. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

The pilot who was flying the helicopter during the crash that killed NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, may have been disoriented and appeared to have thought the helicopter was climbing right before it crashed into a mountain, The Hill reported.

A report from the National Transportation Safety Board shows the pilot, Ara Zobayan, may have lost his sense of direction as he tried to get out of heavy cloud cover. From The Hill:

"During the final descent the pilot, responding to [communications from air traffic control], stated that they were climbing to four thousand [feet]," the report reads.

"Calculated apparent angles at this time show that the pilot could have misperceived both pitch and roll angles," it adds.

The documents also include photos and reconstructions of the crash scene, but NTSB officials warned that a final conclusion on the crash should not yet be drawn.

The analysis of the flight shows that the helicopter climbed to about 1,500 feet above the highway before initiating a left turn. Eight seconds into that turn, the helicopter began a sharp descent, which hit a rate of 4,000 feet per minute before radar contact with the aircraft was lost and it crashed.

Bryant's widow, Vanessa, is suing the helicopter rental company Island Express and the owner of the helicopter for negligence in the death of her husband and daughter.

During the morning of the crash, there was heavy fog and cloud cover, which was severe enough to cause the Los Angeles Police Department to ground its helicopter. The helicopter the Bryants were on did not have terrain awareness or a warning system.

"Defendant Island Express Helicopters' breach of its duty and negligence caused the injuries and damages complained of herein and Plaintiffs' deceased, Kobe Bryant, was killed as a direct result of the negligent conduct of Zobayan for which Defendant Island Express Helicopters is vicariously liable in all respects," the lawsuit claims.

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