Kobe Bryant helicopter had nearly cleared blinding clouds

Federal investigators say wreckage from the helicopter that crashed last month and killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others did not show any evidence of outward engine failure. (Source: AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Investigators say the helicopter that crashed and killed Kobe Bryant and eight others was almost out of blinding clouds when it plunged and crashed into a Southern California hillside.

An investigative update released Friday by the National Transportation Safety Board says there wasn't any sign of engine failure in the Jan. 26 crash northwest of Los Angeles.

The update doesn't say what caused the crash, but it indicates the pilot was only 100 feet from the cloud tops when he suddenly descended.

The update reinforces the notion that the pilot became disoriented while trying to get to clear skies.

The Jan. 26 crash killed the former Los Angeles Lakers star, his teenage daughter and seven others.

The NTSB is investigating the accident, including any role heavy fog played, and a final report isn’t expected for at least a year.

A witness told the NTSB that the helicopter was flying forward and downward through the fog before it crashed into the hill.

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