Kobe Bryant death: Jan. 26, 2021 marks 1 year since deadly helicopter crash

Jan. 26, 2021 marks one year since the fatal helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others.

Here's a look back on coverage of the national tragedy:

What caused the crash

A report by the National Transportation Safety Board said pilot Ara Zobayan may have "misperceived" the pitch of the aircraft, which can happen when a pilot becomes disoriented in low visibility.

Ara Zobayan radioed to air traffic controllers that he was climbing to 4,000 feet (1,220 meters) to get above clouds on Jan. 26 when, in fact, the helicopter was plunging toward a hillside where it crashed northwest of Los Angeles.

Experts said shortly after the crash that the path of the flight indicated Zobayan was disoriented.

The 1,700 pages of NTSB reports, released in June, did not offer a conclusion of what caused the crash but compiled factual reports.

Who died in the crash

Kobe Bryant: The 41-year-old was a basketball legend and a married father of four girls, ranging in age from less than 1 year to 17 years old. He played for the Lakers for 20 seasons, winning five championships, and was selected to the All-Star team 18 times.

Gianna "Gigi" Maria-Onore Bryant: Kobe's daughter was 13 years and a budding basketball star herself. Kobe coached her AAU team, who wore black "Mamba" uniforms.

Ara Zobayan: The pilot of the helicopter had a deep love for flying, according to the aviation group, Group 3 Aviation Van Nuys, that he flew with. Zobayan first joined the group in 1998 specifically to learn to fly helicopters, according to the group, who added that "flying was his life's passion." His desire to become a pilot stemmed from a sightseeing flight tour of the Grand Canyon.

John Altobelli, Kerri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli: John Altobelli was the longest-tenured baseball coach in the history of Orange Coast College, entering his 28th season. His wife Kerri and daughter Alyssa were on the helicopter too.

Altobelli led the Pirates to numerous championship titles, garnering more than 700 wins during his career and four state championships.

"John meant so much to not only Orange Coast College, but to baseball," said Coast Athletic Director Jason Kehler in a written statement. "He truly personified what it means to be a baseball coach. The passion that he put into the game, but more importantly his athletes, was second to none - he treated them like family."

Christina Mauser: She was an assistant coach at Bryant's Mamba Academy in Newbury Park, as well as an assistant basketball coach at Harbor Day School in Orange County. Her husband Matthew Mauser, the head basketball coach at the school, posted on Facebook: "My kids and I are devastated. We lost our beautiful wife and mom today in a helicopter crash. Please respect our privacy. Thank you for all the well wishes they mean so much."

Local band Tijuana Dogs said she was a driving force behind their group in which Matthew is the frontman.

Sarah Chester, Payton Chester: Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton. Payton attended St. Margaret's Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano.

Video of the crash released

Video was released in February showing the aftermath of the helicopter crash.

Michael Dyer was riding his bike in the area when he heard and saw the moment the chopper went down on Jan. 26.

He said he was just a few feet away and captured the smoke and flames coming from the scattered debris.

Dyer told Bike Magazine he watched the helicopter go very fast and fly very low right before it hit the hillside.

EMBED More News Videos

Michael Dyer told Bike Magazine he watched the helicopter go very fast and fly very low right before it hit the hillside

Wrongful death lawsuit

Last February, Vanessa Bryant sued the company involved in the helicopter crash. In the 72-page claim, Bryant's attorney alleged Ara Zobayan "failed to properly monitor and assess the weather prior to takeoff." The lawsuit also alleged "he failed to obtain proper weather data" prior to the flight.

Vanessa Bryant shares heartfelt tribute to daughter Gianna on what would've been her 14th birthday
EMBED More News Videos

Vanessa Bryant shared an emotional and heartfelt tribute to her daughter Gianna on what would've been her 14th birthday.

Copyright © 2022 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.