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News of an investigation into leaked photos of the helicopter accident that resulted in the tragic passing of all-time NBA great and beloved Laker Kobe Bryant first launched in March 2020, roughly two months after the accident on January 26, 2020.
The crash happened near Calabasas, CA on a Sunday morning that saw blankets of fog across LA County, proving difficult conditions for the flight. The helicopter departed from John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, CA, just minutes from Calabasas.
According to NBC News, two LA County firefighters who assisted at the scene may be released from their department, and a third may face possible suspension.
During an ongoing legal battle spanning 16 months, widow Vanessa Bryant publicly released names of the first responders under investigation. The pending verdict suggests that the state and federal courts will ultimately side with Bryant in deeming the actions inappropriate to their responsibilities and a clear mishandling of the scene as surviving families grieved the news.
The leaked photos at the forefront of the investigation showcased the wreckage of the helicopter and victims from the crash, including Kobe Bryant, daughter Gianna Bryant, and an additional seven members in the helicopter—John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Christina Mauser, and Ara Zobayan.
The firefighters in question reportedly took photos at the scene and first shared them among friends and family the morning of the incident. Vanessa Bryant filed charges for negligence and invasion of privacy.
Grief from the sudden passing of Kobe Bryant, Giana Bryant, and the others remains a persistent aftershock felt across the league, media, and the city of Los Angeles a year after the accident.
Throughout the unpredictable timeline of the NBA bubble during COVID’s peak, there was a soul to the 2020 postseason that felt like a tribute to Bryant, especially when the Lakers eventually won the championship.
The seventeenth championship for Los Angeles became another piece of the Lakers empire built by the Black Mamba and the legends before him. He is still loved and remembered by many.