KEY POINTS

  • The Los Angeles County coroner's office confirms all nine bodies have been recovered
  • Investigators have a lot to untangle to determine the probable cause of the helicopter crash
  • The Sikorsy S-76B was apparently flying low and fast in foggy weather

The charred remains of the nine people aboard a helicopter that slammed headlong into a hillside in Calabasas, California Sunday morning -- including NBA superstar Kobe Bryant -- have been recovered, announced the Los Angeles County coroner's office on Tuesday. The first three bodies were recovered Monday. Bryant's remains were not among this number.

"The search continued for the other six helicopter occupants," said the coroner's office in a statement. "Soon after, their bodies were located, removed from the crash site and transported to the department's Forensic Science Center."

The coroner's office will now conduct body examinations of the victims, the most notable of whom were Bryant and his 13 year-old daughter, Gianna, a budding basketball player who wanted to follow in her great father's footsteps. California authorities identified all of the other seven victims late Monday.

Three of those killed were members of the Altobelli family: Orange Coast College head baseball coach John "Alto" Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa, who also played on the Mamba basketball team with Bryant's daughter. The only surviving members of the Altobelli family are a son and daughter.

Also killed in the crash was Christina Mauser, 38, the assistant coach at Bryant’s Mamba Academy basketball team. She is survived by her husband and three young children. Payton Chester, 13, and her mother, Sarah, 45, were also killed. Only the father, Chris, was left alive in the family. The helicopter pilot was identified as Ara Zobayan, who was a certified flight and ground instructor, according to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators are using drones to document the scene. FBI agents are sifting through the debris field. Sources said the investigation into the crash wants to answer the question as to why the Sikorsky S-76B luxury executive helicopter owned by Bryant was traveling at high speed and low to the ground in dense fog with limited visibility.

A meteorologist said fog blanketed the upper reaches of the canyon at the time of the crash. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said his department's helos would not have left their airport in Long Beach in such weather conditions.

When it smashed into the hill at high speed, Bryant's helicopter was flying at about 184 mph (296 km/h), according to flight data. NTSB investigation noted the helicopter descended at a rate of more than 2,000 feet per minute. The top speed quoted for the S-76B is 178 mph, however.

"We know that this was a high energy impact crash," an NTSB official noted during a press conference Tuesday.

The helicopter hit the ground so hard it left an impact crater located on a hillside 1,085 feet above sea level. Bits and pieces of the helicopter are scattered on both sides of the hill. The terrific impact hurled debris out to an area of 500 to 600 feet.

The causes of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant have not yet been determined, but Los Angeles was shrouded in a dense fog The causes of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant have not yet been determined, but Los Angeles was shrouded in a dense fog Photo: AFP / Mark RALSTON