The helicopter that Kobe Bryant and eight others were in on Sunday came very close to clearing a California hillside, the National Transportation Safety Board said on Tuesday, missing the top by just 20 to 30 feet. The New York Times reports the helicopter had reached 2,300 feet before beginning to descend at a rate of more than 33 feet per second, or about 2,000 feet per minute. NTSB investigators finished their work at the crash site on Tuesday, per CNN, and Jennifer Homendy said that descent rate wasn't "a normal landing speed ... we know that this was a high energy impact crash." But the Los Angeles Times notes that had the pilot cleared the hill, "he would have faced new hazards ahead." Another NTSB investigator noted the copter was in an area studded with hills: "There are actually other higher hills surrounding" the one they hit.
Homendy also addressed the often-mentioned fact that the LAPD had grounded its own choppers due to poor visibility that morning. "It's an apples to oranges comparison. It's a different helicopter, different operations, they have 4-person helicopters, this is outfitted for more than that." CNN explains that the Sikorsky S-76B that Bryant was in is considered a "workhorse" that is used "as offshore oil and gas transportation, air ambulances, executive transport and search-and-rescue aircraft." ABC News reports all of the bodies were removed from the wreckage by Monday, and People reports four of the victims were identified via fingerprints by the LA coroner on Tuesday: Bryant, pilot Ara Zobayan, and passengers John Altobelli and Sarah Chester. (Read more Kobe Bryant stories.)