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Thick fog seen as possible cause of helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant

By Alex Segura Lozano / Los Angeles / US federal and local investigators on Monday began probing the cause of a fatal helicopter crash near Los Angeles that killed former NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, one of his daughters and seven other people.

The thick fog in the area at the time of the accident is the main focus of the investigation, according to authorities, who said their final conclusions will be released in the coming months.

The Sikorsky S-76 private helicopter, built in 1991, was operating perfectly until around 10 am Sunday, when it crashed into a hillside near Calabasas, California, a town some 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Police Department had grounded its helicopters that morning due to the foggy conditions.

“The weather situation did not meet our minimum standards for flying,” which are 3.2 kilometers (two miles) of visibility and a 244-meter (800-foot) cloud ceiling, LAPD spokesman Josh Rubenstein said in a statement.

The pilot had been authorized to fly under Special Visual Flight Rules, according to an audio recording of his conversation with air-traffic controllers that was captured by the website liveatc.net, several US media outlets reported.

The Special VFR clearance allows pilots to fly in weather conditions that are worse than those allowed under standard visual flight rules.

In the final seconds of the recording, the pilot asked for “flight following,” a service in which the controllers are in regular contact with an aircraft. The tower responded that the helicopter was too low, and seconds later it disappeared from radar.

An eyewitness, Jerry Kocharian, told the Los Angeles Times that the helicopter was flying unusually low when it crashed into the hillside, saying he saw a “big fireball.”

“No one could survive that,” he added.

Also perishing in the crash were Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna; a baseball coach at Orange Coast College, John Altobelli; his wife, Keri Altobelli; their daughter, Alyssa Altobelli, who was a teammate on Gianna’s basketball team; a female basketball coach, Christina Mauser; another of Gianna’s teammates, Payton Chester; Payton’s mother, Sarah Chester; and the pilot, Ara Zobayan.

The FBI, the LAPD and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department are assisting with the investigation, which is being headed by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky also is cooperating in the probe.

The 41-year-old Bryant, a Los Angeles Lakers superstar who was a big part of five NBA championship teams between 2000 and 2010, flew by private helicopter almost daily as a way of avoiding Los Angeles’ heavy traffic.

Bryant’s many fans in the Los Angeles area have been paying tribute to the late superstar outside Staples Center, the Lakers’ home arena, and near the hillside in Calabasas where the helicopter crashed.

Bryant, who retired at the end of the 2016 season and is the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history with 33,643 points, was already a lock to be a member of the 2020 Hall of Fame class along with fellow greats Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett.

After his untimely death, Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo confirmed to The Athletic’s Shams Charania that Bryant will be inducted posthumously without the customary vote. (January 27, 2020, EFE/Practica Español)

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Question 1
Principalmente, el texto habla de... (Mainly, the text talk about...)
una investigación para averiguar por qué se produjo un accidente aéreo en Los Ángeles.
por qué el Departamento de Policía de Los Ángeles decidió que sus helicópteros permanecieran en tierra el domingo.
los homenajes que se están realizando en la memoria de un jugador de baloncesto fallecido.
Question 2
En el texto se dice que... (It's said in the text that...)
había más de una decena de personas a bordo del helicóptero que se estrelló en Calabasas.
un jugador de baloncesto falleció a causa de un accidente aéreo ocurrido el pasado fin de semana.
aún no se ha confirmado que Kobe Bryant estuviera a bordo de ese helicóptero.
Question 3
Según el texto... (According to the text...)
no hacía mal tiempo en Los Ángeles cuando se produjo ese accidente aéreo.
se piensa que la poca visibilidad a causa de la niebla puede ser la causa de ese accidente.
las autoridades descartan que el mal tiempo haya podido causar ese accidente aéreo.
Question 4
En el texto se dice que... (It's said in the text that...)
el piloto obtuvo una autorización para volar a pesar de que las condiciones meteorológicas no eran muy favorables.
el piloto decidió realizar ese vuelo a pesar de no tener una autorización por las condiciones meteorológicas.
se desmiente que el piloto pidiera a los controladores aéreos que vigilaran su vuelo.
Question 5
En el texto se dice que... (It's said in the text that...)
Kobe Bryant apenas estuvo jugando un par de años en los Lakers.
Kobe Bryant fue uno de los jugadores más representativos de la NBA.
Kobe Bryant solo tuvo una hija.
Question 6
Según el vídeo... (According to the video...)
Kobe Bryant siempre llevó el número 24 con los Lakers.
Kobe Bryant anunció su retirada como jugador de la NBA en 2005.
Kobe Bryant fue uno de los mayores anotadores de la NBA.
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