Los Angeles Lakers get together for first time since learning of Kobe Bryant's death

CNN's Nick Watt reports.

Posted: Jan 29, 2020 11:09 AM
Updated: Jan 30, 2020 8:15 AM


As millions of fans mourn the death of Kobe Bryant and eight other people killed in a helicopter crash Sunday and investigators look into the tragedy, people close to the NBA legend tried Wednesday to go on with their lives while honoring his memory.

The Los Angeles Lakers met at their practice facility for the first time since the crash.

While Bryant has been retired from professional basketball for four years, Lakers players still idolize the five-time NBA champion and his legacy permeates their home arena.

The Lakers were on a plane back from Philadelphia when the news of Bryant's death got out.

Lakers Coach Frank Vogel said he informed his players of Bryant's death -- some had heard, some had not -- then went home and hugged his family.

Wednesday they gathered again as a team.

'We did some things that we thought would be therapeutically beneficial,' Vogel said. He said the team did some shooting drills but it wasn't a 'real practice.' He said he wanted his guys to break a sweat and to be around each other.

He said they all spent time together at a team lunch.

'And (we) grieved together,' he added.

He said the Lakers have always wanted to make Bryant proud.

'We want to represent what he stood for,' he said.

Also Wednesday, Bryant's widow, Vanessa, sent a message to Kobe's fans and changed her Instagram profile photo to one of Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter, who also died in the crash.

It was her first public statement on the deaths of Gianna and her father. She wrote that she and her three other daughters are 'completely devastated.'

'My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who've shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them,' she wrote.

Feds investigate cause of crash

The aircraft carrying the nine victims crashed into a hillside and missed the top of the hill by 20 to 30 feet, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

Preliminary information suggests the helicopter descended rapidly before it crashed in Calabasas, California, NTSB member Jennifer Homendy said.

'The descent rate for the helicopter was over 2,000 feet a minute,' Homendy said. 'This is a pretty steep descent at high speed.'

Investigators are trying to determine what caused the crash and whether the pilot should have been granted special permission to fly in the foggy conditions Sunday morning.

FAA records reviewed by CNN reveal Island Express Holding Corp., the company operating the helicopter, was certified only for visual flight rules flights.

Visual flight rules require pilots to stay clear of clouds and in good visibility while using both visual and instrument navigation.

Investigators are also looking into whether a safety system -- recommended by federal authorities years ago -- could have prevented the tragedy.

The helicopter lacked a recommended safety feature

The Sikorsky S-76B helicopter, built in 1991, did not have a terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS), Homendy said.

TAWS is a safety feature that alerts pilots when they might hit terrain.

After a 2004 helicopter crash in Texas that killed 10 people, the NTSB recommended all new and existing helicopters with six or more passenger seats be equipped with TAWS, Homendy said.

But the NTSB doesn't have the authority to set new rules based on recommendations. That's up to the Federal Aviation Administration, which didn't implement the recommendation, Homendy said.

An FAA spokesman did not provide a direct response Wednesday to CNN's request for explanation on why the agency did not make TAWS mandatory for all helicopters.

The FAA has estimated that TAWS would cost '$35,000 per helicopter for equipment and installation, plus $7,000 for revenue loss for equipment downtime,' according to a government document from 2014.

The FAA must consider cost-benefit analyses before making new rules, said Peter Goelz, a former managing director of the NTSB.

But Goelz said he and other aviation experts believe 'when it comes to safety, the cost-benefit analysis should never be the final call.'

He said some helicopter pilots may consider TAWS to be a nuisance, especially in good conditions when the terrain is visible but the alerts keep going off.

'If you have a device in a helicopter, which is often flying at low altitudes, often (TAWS) will go off and you will get alerts and that will cause the pilot to ignore it,' Goelz said.

But he said that concern is 'overstated.'

'You can calibrate these things very carefully,' he said. 'The workload argument doesn't hold up when you weigh it against the safety benefits.'

Island Express declined to comment on why the aircraft did not have TAWS.

'Because this is an ongoing investigation, Island Express defers comment on this matter to the NTSB,' according to a company statement.

The helicopter also lacked a flight data recorder

TAWS isn't the only recommended feature that wasn't on the helicopter. The aircraft also lacked a cockpit voice recorder and a flight data recorder, Homendy said.

'Having a CVR and an FDR would have helped us significantly in this investigation,' the NTSB member said.

When contacted by CNN, Island Express declined to say why the helicopter didn't have the recorders, citing the ongoing investigation.

Goelz said one reason used in the past for why some helicopters lack flight data recorders was that the devices were 'too big and too heavy.'

But 'they have now miniaturized them -- they are 5 pounds at the most,' Goelz said.

'The idea that these kinds of devices aren't mandatory is really unacceptable.'

What was found at the scene

While investigators won't find a cockpit voice recorder or flight data recorder, they did find debris stretching over 500 feet, the NTSB said.

The agency recovered an iPad, a cell phone and documents such as the helicopter's maintenance records, registration and airworthiness certificate.

Timeline: Here's what happened in the minutes before crash

Homendy said the NTSB will release its preliminary report on the crash in about 10 days -- but it won't answer everyone's questions.

'It's not going to contain our findings, our analysis,' she said. 'It's not going to contain any safety recommendations or probable cause. But it's going to provide some factual information -- more than we have now.'

She said a final report will be out in about 12 to 18 months.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 159036

Reported Deaths: 3879
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10708104
Hinds10519205
Harrison7555113
Jackson6708128
Rankin6130112
Lee547697
Madison5202110
Forrest400187
Jones382189
Lauderdale3727147
Lafayette344057
Washington3367108
Lamar307550
Lowndes261167
Oktibbeha259962
Bolivar250185
Panola240253
Neshoba2311122
Marshall227151
Leflore213991
Monroe212278
Pontotoc211231
Lincoln200867
Sunflower195555
Warren184958
Tate184051
Union176826
Copiah172540
Pike168360
Pearl River163870
Yazoo162940
Scott162730
Itawamba162637
Alcorn160428
Coahoma157844
Prentiss156732
Simpson155153
Adams148352
Grenada147145
Leake143344
Holmes135761
Covington135541
Tippah132530
George131725
Winston131726
Hancock130942
Wayne124924
Attala124735
Marion124248
Tishomingo114844
Chickasaw112132
Newton112129
Tallahatchie100727
Clay97127
Clarke95653
Jasper88523
Stone83115
Calhoun81513
Walthall79930
Montgomery78826
Carroll76315
Smith75716
Lawrence75214
Yalobusha74428
Noxubee74217
Perry69326
Tunica63519
Greene63022
Jefferson Davis60217
Amite59315
Claiborne59316
Humphreys55719
Quitman5117
Benton50518
Kemper49318
Webster47914
Wilkinson41322
Jefferson38712
Franklin3726
Choctaw3697
Sharkey33117
Issaquena1234
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 260359

Reported Deaths: 3776
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson34716513
Mobile20452370
Madison14215153
Tuscaloosa13755173
Montgomery12731243
Shelby1110278
Baldwin9341137
Lee801566
Morgan722855
Etowah692170
Calhoun6809121
Marshall675058
Houston552739
DeKalb512940
Cullman480246
St. Clair460357
Limestone455046
Lauderdale443357
Elmore432567
Walker3861112
Talladega381157
Jackson361623
Colbert341546
Blount315845
Autauga289342
Franklin262634
Coffee257717
Dale244454
Dallas234932
Chilton233641
Covington232434
Russell23153
Escambia206932
Tallapoosa190291
Chambers187551
Clarke164120
Pike163814
Marion148236
Winston144725
Lawrence137336
Pickens129720
Geneva12818
Marengo126724
Bibb125238
Barbour121429
Butler120042
Randolph107022
Cherokee106724
Hale101432
Fayette99916
Clay94825
Washington93921
Henry8996
Monroe84611
Lowndes82629
Cleburne80714
Macon77122
Crenshaw73330
Conecuh72914
Lamar7258
Bullock70919
Perry6987
Wilcox65518
Sumter59522
Greene44518
Choctaw43519
Coosa3824
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 42°
Columbus
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 40°
Oxford
Broken Clouds
43° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 36°
Starkville
Overcast
43° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 38°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather