RIP. Gianna “Gigi” Marie-Onore Bryant’s death and the final four victims of the tragic helicopter accident were officially confirmed “through the use of DNA and fingerprints” by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner in a statement obtained by In Touch on Wednesday, January 29. “Following round the clock testing and analysis of DNA, the department officially identified the five other occupants in the helicopter crash and notified their legal next of kin,” the statement read.
In addition to Gianna, 13, the bodies of Payton Chester, 13, Alyssa Altobelli, 14, Keri Altobelli, 46, and girls basketball coach Christina Mauser, 38, were identified and “their causes of death were certified as blunt trauma.” Just one day earlier, the coroner confirmed Kobe Bryant, 41, passed away in addition to pilot Ara Zobayan, 50, former Tustin Memorial Academy teacher Sarah Chester, 46, and Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, 57.
The nine victims were traveling from Orange County to Thousand Oaks for basketball practice at Bryant’s Mamba Academy, but they didn’t make it to their final destination, and now investigators are trying to figure out what went wrong. “We know the helicopter was at 2,300 feet before it lost communication with Air Traffic control,” NTSB board member Jennifer Homendy said in a press conference on January 28. “The descent rate of the helicopter was over 2,000 feet per minute. So, we know this was a high energy impact crash.”
Following the heartbreaking news, celebrities and fans have posted tributes to Bryant — who is survived by his wife, Vanessa Bryant, and their three daughters: Natalia, Bianka, and Capri — his daughter and the other passengers on social media.
Bryant’s wife broke her silence on January 29 to reveal how her family is coping at the moment. “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. We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe — the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful and wonderful daughter and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka and Capri,” the 37-year-old began.
“We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately,” she continued. “There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever.”
Vanessa went on to say she’s going to “keep pushing” through life since it’s what Bryant would have wanted. “I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them,” the mother of four concluded. “Have them here with us, forever. Thank you for sharing your joy, your grief and your support with us. We ask that you grant us the respect and privacy we will need to navigate this new reality. To honor our Team Mamba family, the Mamba Sports Foundation has set up the MambaOnThree Fund to help support the other families affected by this tragedy.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone during this time.
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