Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images

Kobe Bryant's wife Vanessa Bryant is reportedly "devastated" that LA County deputies shared photos of her family members' mangled bodies on their cell phones.

Kobe Bryant, 41, and his daughter Gianna Bryant, 13, were killed along with seven others in a helicopter crash in the hills of Calabasas in January.

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The helicopter erupted into flames immediately upon impact with the hillside. The nine bodies were crushed and burned beyond recognition.

The Los Angeles Times reported that deputies shared graphic images of the remains at the crash site.

At least nine emergency responders took pictures of the remains on their cell phones. One source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he saw photos on the phone of an LA County official who was not at the crash site on Jan. 26.

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Vanessa's attorney, Gray Robb, released a statement early Sunday morning that said Vanessa was "absolutely devastated" by the allegations.

On the day of the crash, Vanessa went to the sheriff's office to personally request that the area be designated a no-fly zone to protect the scene from airborne paparazzi, according to Robb's statement.

Robb added that Vanessa made the request to protect the dignity of all the victims and their families.

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On Monday, the LA County Sheriff released a statement saying the graphic photos were "deleted" from all cell phones on the sheriff's orders.

An insider source said deputies were told if they come clean and delete the photos from their phones, they would not face discipline.

But other sources within the sheriff's office said the sheriff's decision to destroy all of the photos could amount to the destruction of evidence.

Vanessa will need the photos in case she decides to file a lawsuit against the county and the sheriff's office.

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An L.A County Sheriff's trainee is in hot water for trying to impress a woman with gruesome death scene photos from the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash site.

The trainee reportedly met the woman at a bar and tried to impress her by pulling out his cell phone and showing her gruesome pictures of the mangled bodies at the crash site.

Photo by EVGA / BACKGRID

Kobe, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, died along with seven others in a helicopter crash in January.

The trainee was busted when a bartender overheard the conversation and called the cops.

The horrific photos were passed around by members of the L.A. County Fire Dept. and, according to TMZ, the department is now investigating.

The Sheriff's Dept. contacted family members of all the victims on Wednesday, after TMZ called them and inquired about the crime scene photos.

The Sheriff's Department would only tell TMZ "The matter is being looked into."

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The bodies of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant were reportedly released to their family following their tragic deaths last month.

According to Us Weekly, the remains were released by the Los Angeles County coroner's office on Sunday, Feb. 2, in preparation for their funeral - expected to take place next week.

Photo by KIKA/WENN.com

Kobe, 41, and Gianna, 13, were among nine people killed when their helicopter crashed into a hillside in dense fog on Jan. 26. They were remembered in various ways at Super Bowl LIV in Miami on Sunday, WENN.com reports.

Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Images of Kobe and Gianna, as well as Pro Football Hall of Famer Chris Doleman, who died last week, were shown on big screens as the crowd fell silent.

Later, singers Jennifer Lopez and Shakira paid tribute to Kobe during their Halftime Show, when an overhead shot of the field during a performance of Jennifer's "Let's Get Loud" showed a huge cross lit up in purple and yellow - the colors of Kobe's former team, the Los Angeles Lakers.

Island Express Helicopters, the charter service that employed Kobe's pilot, Ara Zobayan, are under investigation following reports that Zobayan, 50, was not as experienced flying under instrument rules only.

According to the FAA, Island Express's pilots were authorized to fly under visual flight rules only, meaning they had to be able to clearly see the ground and other aircraft while in the air.

Island Express has grounded their fleet of six Sikorsky S-76B choppers until the investigation is completed. The company was involved in four helicopter crashes previously.

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Photos: Getty Images, Facebook

Island Express Helicopters, the charter company that employed Kobe Bryant's pilot, has grounded its fleet of choppers as the FAA reports pilot Ara Zobayan was not cleared to fly in dense fog conditions.

Zobayan, 50, piloted the chopper that was chartered to carry Kobe, 41, his daughter Gianna, 13, and six other passengers from Newport Beach to Camarillo.

The tower lost contact with Zobayan about 2 minutes after warning him that he was too low to be tracked on radar.

The chopper descended rapidly and flew at top speed into a hillside near Calabasas. The crash left debris scattered over 500 feet.

The company which owns six Sikorsky S-76B choppers grounded its fleet as the investigation into Sunday's tragic crash continues.

Zobayan, who was licensed to fly under instrument rules, didn't have the legal authority to fly in fog because the company didn't have necessary certification.

Pilot Kurt Deetz, who previously ferried Kobe to destinations in the same helicopter, said Zobayan wasn't as experienced flying under instruments only.

Deetz said the pilot likely didn't have experience flying with instruments only because of the company's operating limitations.

"There is only one way you can be in the clouds, on an I.F.R. (instrument flight rules) flight plan or by accident," Deetz said.

Air traffic controllers at Burbank Airport had given Zobayan special visual flight rules clearance to fly with lower visibility due to the foggy conditions. The visibility that day was 3-5 miles - enough distance to see obstacles in front of his windscreen.

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Photo: State of Illinois

The Sikorsky S-76B is the largest and most luxurious helicopter. It is favored by celebrities and wealthy executive clients because of the roomy cabin. The same chopper with a different tail number was previously owned by the state of Illinois (pictured).

Island Express specialized in short hops from Long Beach, California to Catalina Island. A one-way ticket for a 15 minute trip to Catalina Island cost anywhere from $75 to $150 per passenger.

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Photos: Getty Images, Facebook

An eyewitness says Kobe Bryant's pilot, Ara Zobayan, 50, was flying in a circle "aggressively," about 30 minutes before the helicopter crashed into a mountain above Calabasas, California.

The helicopter went down about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles at 9:47 a.m. Sunday, killing the 41-year-old NBA legend, his daughter Gianna, 13, and six other passengers.

An eyewitness captured the moment Bryant's helicopter was circling over Glendale, California for 15 minutes in foggy weather.

"I try and video/photograph all the weird stuff happening above my house in Glendale, CA," a Twitter user wrote under the handle @theironlydreams.

"Unfortunately this morning I didn't realize I was filming the helicopter Kobe Bryant, his daughter and others were in 31 minutes before they crashed."

According to a tweet from the same user, the pilot was performing a very aggressive circling maneuver, that's why I went outside to Film because it was so loud."

The user said the Sikorsky S-76B chopper was flying lower and lower over his house, "engine maxed."

Robert Ditchey, a veteran pilot, aeronautical engineer and former airline executive, told USA Today that the crash was "totally avoidable".

"And on the part of some people I can go as far as to say irresponsible," Ditchey said.

Aviation experts who studied the helicopter's bizarre flight path and weather maps observed that the pilot flew away from the airport and he had enough visibility to see the hills before he flew into them.

Aviation officials and law enforcement officials are reportedly investigating whether Zobayan was suicidal at the time of the crash.

Federal aviation officials are looking into Zobayan's background and interviewing his friends and family to determine whether he had financial or personal problems.

"All signs point to a CFIT [controlled flight into terrain]," an aviation source told The Washington Examiner.

A controlled flight into terrain is an accident in which a pilot intentionally or inadvertently flies an aircraft into the ground, a mountain, a body of water, or an obstacle such as a building.

Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images

An air traffic controller warned Zobayan at least twice that he was flying too low to be tracked by radar.

Audio captured by LiveATC.net revealed that the pilot said he was climbing to avoid clouds when he suddenly veered off path above U.S. Route 101. Seconds later, he crashed into the hillside.

The transmissions between the pilot and the tower reveals the air traffic controllers didn't know what Zobayan was doing.

Minutes before the crash, a controller told Zobayan "you're still too low level" to be tracked by radar.

About four minutes later, "the pilot advised they were climbing to avoid a cloud layer," Jennifer Homendy of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Monday.

It was the pilot's last contact with the tower.

"When ATC asked what the pilot planned to do, there was no reply," Homendy said. Radar indicates the helicopter climbed to 2,300 feet and then began a left descending turn."

Two minutes later, someone called 911 to report the crash.

Zobayan was flying under visual flight rules (VFR), meaning he was relying on his eyesight to see the ground below him rather than using the helicopter's more accurate instrument panel to determine his elevation.

Aviation experts say a pilot with Zobayan's experience should have avoided the hills in dense fog, not flown toward them.

Flight tracking data shows the pilot flying erratically up, down, sideways, up then rapidly descending 1,700 feet.

The helicopter was flying at 184mph and descending at a rate of 4,000 feet per minute when it struck the hillside, according to Flightradar24.

The rapid ascents and descents would have sparked terror among the passengers.

At the time of the crash, the fog ceiling was about 1,300 feet above ground with a visibility of 5 miles. The pilots believe Zobayan would have seen the mountain before he flew into it.

Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Aviation officials and law enforcement officials are reportedly investigating whether Kobe Bryant's helicopter pilot was suicidal at the time of the crash that killed the NBA legend and 7 other passengers.

Aviation experts who studied the helicopter's bizarre flight path and weather maps observed that the pilot flew away from the airport and he had enough visibility to see the hills before he flew into them.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), alongside the FBI are investigating whether pilot Ara Zobayan flew a controlled flight into terrain or CFIT.

A controlled flight into terrain is an accident in which a pilot intentionally or inadvertently flies an aircraft into the ground, a mountain, a body of water, or an obstacle such as a building.

"All signs point to a [controlled flight into terrain]," an aviation source told The Washington Examiner.

An air traffic controller warned Zobayan at least twice that he was flying too low to be tracked by radar.

Federal aviation officials are looking into Zobayan's background and interviewing his friends and family to determine whether he had financial or personal problems.

Suicide by pilot is an event in which a pilot intentionally crashes an aircraft in an attempt to kill himself and sometimes passengers.

The suicide by pilot theory was considered after flight data shows Zobayan flew too low and turned away from the airport toward the hilly terrain in the final seconds before the crash that killed the NBA legend, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and 6 other passengers.

The crash also killed college baseball coach John Altobelli, 56; his wife, Keri; and their daughter Alyssa Altobelli, who played on the same basketball team with Gianna. Another young basketball player, Payton Chester, was also killed along with her mother, Sarah Chester; and Christina Maurer, a girls basketball coach at Harbor Day School, a private elementary school.

Zobayan, 50, was an experienced licensed commercial pilot of 12 years, a certified flight instructor of 2 years and a ground instructor of 11 years, according to federal aviation records.

Audio captured by LiveATC.net revealed that the pilot said he was climbing to avoid clouds when he suddenly veered off path above U.S. Route 101. Seconds later, he crashed into the hillside.

Zobayan was flying under visual flight rules (VFR), meaning he was relying on his eyesight to see the ground below him rather than using the helicopter's more accurate instrument panel to determine his elevation.

Disoriented pilots often follow Route 101 when flying by sight only.

Aviation expert Philip Greenspun told The Weather Channel: "You have to really follow [Route] 101 carefully if you want to avoid the hills. Once you mistakenly point the helicopter toward the hills due to, perhaps, being in a cloud or the visibility being really low, the only way to get away from the hills is by turning. Not by climbing into them."

Aviation experts say a pilot with Zobayan's experience should have flown away from the hills in dense fog, not toward them.

Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

Bryant's former pilot, Kurt Deetz, has claimed that the Sikorski S-76B was "almost bulletproof" and would not have dropped out of the sky and crashed into a hillside.

Deetz said the helicopter was like a "limousine" that was in "fantastic" condition and it was "so reliable" that it wouldn't just "fall out of the sky."

"There aren't a lot of people readily qualified to fly it," Deetz told CNN on Monday. "They don't just fall out of the sky."

Deetz told the L.A. Times that the crash likely occurred due to dense fog rather than engine or mechanical problems. The weather was so bad that local police departments grounded their choppers.

"The likelihood of a twin engine failure on that aircraft - it just doesn't happen," he said.

The $13 million helicopter was 29 years old and logged "more than 7.4 million hours of safe flight.

In his final transmission to the tower Zobayan told an air traffic controller he was climbing to avoid a cloud layer.

Pilots who spoke with TMZ said they believe Zobayan panicked and ascended 2,000 feet in order to clear a mountain.

Flight tracking data shows he then rapidly descended 1,700 feet in what may have been an attempt to fly under the fog.

At the time of the crash, the fog ceiling was about 1,300 feet above ground with a visibility of 5 miles. The pilots believe Zobayan would have seen the mountain before he flew into it.

Several of the pilots agree that Zobayan should have switched to Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) and climbed above the fog rather than descend.

An air traffic controller warned Zobayan that he was flying too low to be seen on radar. "Two Echo X-ray, you are still too low for flight following at this time."

The tail number of Bryant's helicopter was N72EX.

Seconds later, the helicopter reportedly plunged nearly 500 feet in 15 seconds before it crashed into the hillside above Calabasas.

The crash site is only 17 miles from the Mamba Sports Academy, where the group was heading to attend a girls basketball tournament.

Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images

When it struck the hillside, the helicopter was flying at about 184mph and descending at a rate of 4,000 feet per minute, according to Flightradar24. The wreckage was scattered over the length of a football field.

The rugged terrain complicated efforts to recover the remains. Only three bodies were recovered by Monday, according to the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner's Office.

Medical examiner, Dr. Jonathan Lucas, estimated it would take a couple more days to recover the rest of the bodies.

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Photo by Instagram.com/@shaunieoneal5

Shaquille O'Neal's ex-wife Shaunie O'Neal posted the last photo she took of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant watching O'Neal's daughter Mearah O'Neil (#17) playing in a basketball tournament on Saturday.

Gianna sat on a bench while her famous father stood nearby in a lounge area overlooking the basketball court.

The photo was taken at Bryant's Mamba Sports facility in Thousand Oaks, California on Saturday, Jan. 25.

Father and daughter were on a helicopter along with seven others when the chopper went down at 9:47 a.m. Sunday. They were heading to the sports facility when the helicopter crashed in the hills above nearby Calabasas.

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Bryant and Gianna shared a special bond. The two were inseparable. Friends say he was thrilled that "Gigi" shared his love for basketball.

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

A former coach and family friend said Bryant's family is "struggling" and they will miss him "more than you can begin to imagine."

The chopper went down in extremely foggy conditions minutes after an air traffic controller told the pilot he was flying too low to be tracked.

The pilot, Ara Zoboyan, was flying under special visual flight rules (SVFR), meaning he was given permission to fly in worse weather conditions than visual flight rules (VFR) allow.

SVFR is only issued when the visibility is 1,000 feet above ground level. Flying low to the ground is very risky even under normal conditions.

The helicopter circled over the Burbank airport for about 15 minutes while air traffic control cleared other flights to take off.

Zoboyan's friends say he was qualified to fly in heavy fog and was not one to make mistakes. The pilot had experience flying the military grade helicopter. The Sikorsky S-76B required two pilots, but only one pilot was flying that day.

The Sikorsky S-76B chopper was 29 years old and had twin engines. Another pilot who flew the same helicopter said the crash occurred due to weather conditions.

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Photos by BACKGRID

Kim Kardashian skipped the Grammy Awards to attend a midnight Sunday Service in honor of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, 13, and seven others who perished in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning.

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Bryant, 41, Gianna and seven others were killed when a helicopter went down in the hills above Calabasas, California in extremely foggy conditions. The crash site is located behind Kourtney Kardashian's Calabasas home.

Bryant and Gianna are survived by his wife Vanessa and their daughters Natalia, Bianca and infant Capri, who was born last summer.

Photo by BACKGRID

Kardashian, 39, was seen leaving the memorial service which took place on Sunday night, hours after the NBA legend died.

The mother of four dressed conservatively in a grey satin wrap skirt and top for the service. She shared videos of the service on her Instagram page, with gospel singer Kirk Franklin telling the crowd: "Why do bad things happen to good people?"

She captioned the video: "I needed to hear this."

Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

Kardashian and her husband Kanye West knew Bryant and his wife Vanessa Lane Bryant personally.

Photo by BACKGRID

Hours before the Sunday Service began, Kardashian posted a photo of Bryant and his daughter Gianna on Instagram along with the caption:

"My heart is so heavy. No one should ever experience was Vanessa is going through. This has affected us all so much but I cannot begin to imagine what Vanessa is feeling losing her husband and baby girl."

Kardashian's younger sister Khloe Kardashian, 35, tweeted: "This can't be real, there's no way!!! My heart hurts." In another tweet, she wrote: "Please don't let this be True. I'm shaking."

Chance the Rapper performed alongside the Sunday Service Choir.

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Photos: C-Span, J. Emilio Flores/Getty Images

A Washington Post journalist was suspended after she tweeted about Kobe Bryant's rape case hours after the Los Angeles Lakers legend and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna "Gigi" Bryant, died along with seven others in a fiery helicopter crash in extremely foggy conditions on Sunday, Jan. 26.

Felicia Sonmez, a political reporter for the Post, linked to a 2016 newspaper story about Bryant's alleged rape of a 19-year-old Colorado woman. The sexual assault charge against Bryant was later dropped.

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Sonmez complained that she received "abuse and death threats" from thousands of Bryant fans after she tweeted the link to a Daily Beast story.

She commented:

"Well, THAT was eye-opening. To the 10,000 people (literally) who have commented and emailed me with abuse and death threats, please take a moment and read the story - which was written 3+ years ago and not by me."

She continued:

"Any public figure is worth remembering in their totality, even if that public figure is beloved and that totality unsettling. That folks are responding with rage and threats toward me (someone who didn't even write the piece but found it well-reported) speaks volumes about the pressure people come under to stay silent in these cases."

The reaction was swift, as many Bryant fans labeled Sonmez a "terrible person" and generated the hashtag #firefeliciasonmez.

One Twitter user wrote: @washingtonpost @JeffBezos you can't possibly continue to employ this classless, unsympathetic, and unremorseful a person as @feliciasonmez. I don't agree with cancel culture but this is an exception."

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Another reporter for MSNBC also came under fire when she made a Freudian slip and said "ni**er" while covering the tragic crash.

The investigation into the crash is ongoing.

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Kobe Bryant's daughter Gianna Maria Onore Bryant, 13, died with him and seven others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, CA on Sunday morning.

The chopper went down at 9:45 a.m. local time. There were no survivors.

Bryant was heading to his Mamba Academy in nearby Thousand Oaks, CA to coach his daughter Gianna's 8th grade basketball team in a tournament. One or more of Gianna's teammates was among the 9 killed in the crash.

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

In addition to Gianna, Bryant, 41, and his wife Vanessa share three other daughters - Natalia, Bianca and toddler Capri.

Bryant's private twin engine Sikorsky S-76 helicopter had taken off from John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California. The conditions were "extremely foggy" at the time.

Eyewitnesses tell TMZ the helicopter's engine sputtered before it spiraled to the ground. The crash occurred on a hillside behind the home of reality TV personality Kourtney Kardashian.

Among the dead was John Altobelli, a baseball coach at Orange Coast College.

Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Bryant is pictured in 2018 with wife Vanessa and their daughters Natalia, 2nd from right, and Gianna, right.

Vanessa was not on board. Ex-Laker Rick Fox confirmed he was not among those killed in the crash, as rumors suggested.

A memorial to the Lakers legend is forming outside the Staples Center where he spent his entire 20-year career playing for the Lakers.

Bryant's death came one day after his NBA all-time scoring record was passed by Lakers forward LeBron James (left). Bryant is now #4 on the all-time scoring list behind James.

Photo: VINCENT LAFORET/AFP via Getty Images

NBA legend Michael Jordan, 56, paid tribute to Bryant in a statement:

"I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe and Gianna's passing. Words cannot describe the pain I am feeling. I loved Kobe. He was like a little brother to me. We used to talk often and I will miss those conversations very much. He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force. Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply and took great pride in his daughter's love for the game of basketball. Yvette joins me in sending my deepest condolences to Vanessa, the Lakers organization and basketball around the world."

Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday morning. He was 41.

Bryant and eight others were killed when his private Sikorsky S-76 helicopter crashed near Las Virgenes Road and Willow Glen St. at around 10 a.m. local time.

The crash occurred behind the home of reality TV personality Kourtney Kardashian.

Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Firefighters and police responded to the area where the helicopter went down after a fire broke out.

Aerial images shows the smoldering wreckage on a hillside near a roadway. Nearly a dozen emergency vehicles parked on the road nearby.

Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Bryant's death came one day after his NBA all-time scoring record was passed by Lakers forward LeBron James (left). Bryant is now #4 on the all-time scoring list behind James.

James 35, had written "Mamba 4 Life" and "8/24 KB" on his sneakers in gold ink to show respect for Bryant before the Lakers' 108-91 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.

Kobe Bryant poses with his family at halftime after both his #8 and #24 Los Angeles Lakers jerseys are retired

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Philadelphia native spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning 5 NBA championships and 18 All-Star titles before retiring in 2016.

Bryant often used his private helicopter to ferry him and his family between Newport Beach to the Staples Center for Lakers games.

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Bryant is survived by his wife Vanessa Bryant and their four daughters - Gianna, Natalia, Bianca and toddler Capri.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.