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Planning continues for Kobe Bryant memorial

LOS ANGELES — Planning is continuing for a public memorial service to honor Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, Feb. 24 at Staples Center, but no details have been released about who will be able to attend.

Lee Zeidman, president of Staples Center, said that planning for the memorial event is continuing, but he stressed that the service will not be broadcast on screens outside Staples Center, and if you don’t have a ticket, don’t go to the venue expecting to watch it outdoors.

Security is likely to be tight around Staples Center, with streets surrounding the venue likely to be closed in an effort to prevent crowds from gathering in the area. No details have yet been released about the availability of tickets.

Bryant, 41, his daughter and seven others were killed Jan. 26 when the helicopter they were in crashed into a hillside in Calabasas. The group was traveling from Orange County to Thousand Oaks for a basketball game at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy.

According to death certificates obtained by various media outlets, a private funeral was held for Bryant and his daughter in Corona del Mar Feb. 7. No other details were released.

Bryant’s widow Vanessa, took to Instagram Feb. 10, saying she is struggling to cope with the deaths of her husband and daughter.

“I’ve been reluctant to put my feelings into words,” she wrote. “My brain refuses to accept that both Kobe and Gigi are gone. I can’t process both at the same time. It’s like I’m trying to process Kobe being gone but my body refuses to accept my Gigi will never come back to me.

“It feels wrong. Why should I be able to wake up another day when my baby girl isn’t being able to have that opportunity?! I’m so mad. She had so much life to live. Then I realize I need to be strong and be here for my 3 daughters. Mad I’m not with Kobe and Gigi but thankful I’m here with Natalia, Bianka and Capri.

“I know what I’m feeling is normal. It’s part of the grieving process. I just wanted to share in case there’s anyone out there that’s experienced a loss like this. God I wish they were here and this nightmare would be over. Praying for all of the victims of this horrible tragedy. Please continue to pray for all.”

Meanwhile a preliminary investigation into the helicopter crash found no indication that engine failure contributed to the crash, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

“All significant components of the helicopter were located within the wreckage area,” according to the report. “Examination of the main and tail rotor assemblies found damage consistent with powered rotation at the time of impact.

“Viewable sections of the engines showed no evidence of an uncontained or catastrophic internal failure,” according to the report. “The No. 2 engine first-stage compressor blades exhibited tip curl in the direction opposite of rotation, consistent with powered rotation at the time of impact.”

The preliminary report makes no conclusions on the cause of the crash, but gives a general summary of information gathered by investigators so far. The full review of the crash — and a determination on the cause — could take as long as 18 months.

“Our investigators have already developed a substantial amount of evidence about the circumstances of this tragic crash,” NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt said in a statement. “And we are confident that we will be able to determine its cause as well as any factors that contributed to it so we can make safety recommendations to prevent accidents like this from occurring again.”

The helicopter, a Sikorsky SK76B, crashed shortly after 9:45 a.m. during a flight from John Wayne Airport in Orange County to Camarillo.

The NTSB preliminary report notes that “the entire fuselage/cabin and both engines were subjected to a postcrash fire.”

“The cockpit was highly fragmented. The instrument panel was destroyed and most instruments were displaced from their panel mounts,” according to the report.

The report echoes earlier information released by the NTSB, noting that the pilot contacted air-traffic controllers at about 9:45 a.m. “and advised he was climbing above cloud layers.” An air-traffic controller “asked the pilot his intentions, to which he replied he was climbing to 4,000 feet. There were no further transmissions.”

According to the report, radar data indicate the helicopter was flying about 1,500 feet above the Ventura (101) Freeway near Las Virgenes, then began turning left and began descending, reaching a descent speed of more than 4,000 feet per minute.

The report includes several photos of the crash area, some from stationary cameras in the area, one from a witness near the crash site and one from a security camera that shows the helicopter flying into clouds in the area.

It also includes a description from a witness who was on a mountain bike trail and told investigators he heard the helicopter approaching.

“He perceived the sound getting louder and saw a blue and white helicopter emerge from the clouds passing from left to right directly to his left,” according to the report. “He judged it to be moving fast, traveling on a forward and descending trajectory. It started to roll to the left such that he caught a glimpse of its belly. He observed it for 1 to 2 seconds, before it impacted terrain about 50 feet below his position.”