LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 18:  Kobe Bryant poses
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 18: Kobe Bryant poses with his family at halftime after both his #8 and #24 Los Angeles Lakers jerseys are retired at Staples Center on December 18, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
  • NBA legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning.
  • He and eight others had been flying in heavy fog conditions and crashed into a hillside.
  • The fog conditions had been so bad that even the Los Angeles Police Department had deemed it too dangerous to fly, and had grounded its own flights that morning.
  • Flight tower audio recordings published by TMZ also showed aviation authorities telling the helicopter pilot he was flying "too low" at some point during the flight.
  • For more stories go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage.

Retired NBA player Kobe Bryant's helicopter crashed in fog conditions considered so dangerous that the Los Angeles Police Department had grounded its own flights at the time, CBS News and the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Bryant's Sikorsky S-76 private helicopter, known for its strong safety record and reputation for VIP transport, crashed around 9:45 a.m. local time Sunday and killed all nine people on board.

"The weather situation did not meet our minimum standards for flying," LAPD spokesman Josh Rubenstein said Sunday night, according to CBS News.

The fog "was enough that we were not flying," he said, adding that the force didn't fly any of its helicopters until later that afternoon.

It's not entirely clear whether the LAPD had grounded flights at the time Bryant's helicopter took off, and the LAPD media office was unavailable for comment at time of publication.

The helicopter pilot had also been told that he was flying too low at one point during the flight, according to flight tower audio recordings published by TMZ.

The pilot had contacted flight control at Burbank Airport around 9:30 a.m. local time, TMZ reported.

It had been circling the area for at least six times at very low altitude at the time, TMZ reported, noting that it was likely to wait for the fog to clear.

Ten minutes later, at 9:40 a.m. the helicopter turned toward a mountainous area, and at around 9:45 a.m. it flew into a mountain at 1,700 feet (518 metres) at 153 knots (283 kilometres/h), according to flight-tracking site FlightRadar24.

The flight path of Kobe Bryant's helicopter when it crashed on January 26, 2020.

Flight tower audio recordings published by TMZ showed aviation authorities in communication with the pilot over a period of time.

Referring to the helicopter's tail number, N72EX, a flight tower staff member can be heard saying at one point: "Two echo x-ray, you're still too low level for flight following at this time."

Colin Storm, a Calabasas resident who was nearby, described hearing the crash from his living room.

"It was very foggy so we couldn't see anything," he said. "But then we heard some sputtering and then a boom."

LA County medical examiner Dr. Jonathan Lucas said the crash site's rugged terrain is complicating recovery efforts, and that it would take a least two days to complete that task, the AP reported.

The victims of the crash include Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gigi, and Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli and his family. A total of nine people were killed.

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