The California company Island Express regularly provides sightseeing flights for tourists, and business flights for executives and celebrities such as Bryant. However, the company says “all services (regular and charter)” have been immediately been cancelled following the tragic accident on January 26.
The company said in a statement on Thursday, “The shock of the accident affected all staff, and management decided that service would be suspended until such time as it was deemed appropriate for staff and customers.”
Bryant chartered the Sikorsky S76 helicopter on Sunday morning to fly to Mamba Sports Academy for a girls basketball tournament when it crashed into a hill.
“One of our helicopters, N72EX, Sikorsky S76, was involved in an accident on Sunday, January 26th in the Calabasas area of LA County,” the company said. “We are deeply saddened by this tragedy. Our top priority is providing assistance to the families of the passengers and the pilot. We hope that you will respect their privacy at this extremely difficult time.”
“We are working closely with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to investigate the cause of the accident and we are grateful to the first responders and local authorities for their response to this unimaginable accident,” the statement added.
The National Transportation Safety Board said the helicopter could have avoided the hill had it been flying 20 to 30 feet higher, per PEOPLE.
“It’s important to realize that there’s not one hill,” said NTSB investigator Bill English. “It’s a ravine with undulating terrain, so the small outcropping that had the main impact in it, the main impact was about 20 to 30 feet from the top of that small hill. But there are actually other higher hills surrounding it.”
The NTSB investigation continues, with a preliminary report expected next week.