Fake video claiming to show Kobe Bryant helicopter crash sparks anger

Alex Lasker

A misleading video purporting to show the helicopter crash that killed former NBA star Kobe Bryant and eight others has sparked anger on social media, along with widespread calls for the footage to be taken down. 

The blurry clip, which has been shared across multiple social media platforms and has racked up millions of views in total, shows an apparently distressed aircraft navigating through a canyon-like area before losing control, spiraling downward and crashing into flames.

"#KobeBryant helicopter crash live footage," one user who shared a version of the fake footage captioned his video, which has since been viewed nearly 200K times. The post remained live on Twitter as of Monday afternoon.

However, a reverse image search by AFP revealed that the footage actually depicts a fatal helicopter accident that took place in the northern United Arab Emirates in December 2018.  

That crash occurred when a chopper on a rescue mission near the world's longest zipline at Jebel Jais, the UAE's highest peak, accidentally clipped the metal cable and went into a tailspin, spiraling into the ground below and killing all four onboard. 

Snopes, too, confirmed that the recently shared clip was recorded over two years ago and was in no way related to Sunday's tragedy.

Still, multiple versions of the video remain live on Twitter and Facebook, with one version having accrued just under 3M views.

Many social media users accused those sharing the video of "chasing clout," while others called for people to report tweets containing the footage so they would be removed.

Bryant's death on Sunday prompted an outpouring of support from athletes and celebrities around the world, who took to social media to express their shock and sadness over the 41-year-old NBA legend's sudden passing. 

"There’s no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother @kobebryant," Shaquille O'Neal tweeted of his friend and former Lakers teammate. "I love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board."

"Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act," wrote former U.S. President Barack Obama. "To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day."

The other victims of the tragic crash have been identified as Alyssa Altobelli, a teammate of Gigi's at Bryant's Mamba Sports Academy, and her parents, Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli and his wife, Keri, CBS News reports. 

Sarah Chester and her daughter, Payton Chester — another teammate of Gigi's — also died in the crash, along with the girls' assistant coach, Christina Mauser, a wife and mother of three.

Mauser's husband, Matt, spoke out following her death, calling the situation "horrible" during an interview with Today.  

"I've got three small kids, and I’m trying to figure out how to navigate life with three kids and no mom," he said. 

The pilot of the doomed helicopter was reportedly identified by friends as Ara Zobayan, a flight instructor who was "very much loved in the aviation community."