VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Viral ‘footage’ of Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash NOT TRUE, it’s actually in UAE in 2018

On the day American basketball legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash, netizens on Facebook re-uploaded a year-old video of a fatal air accident, and falsely claimed it was footage of the California crash.

At least ten FB pages and private users uploaded clips of varying length, between 20 seconds to almost four minutes, of a video that showed a chopper spinning wildly near a mountainous area, before crashing and bursting into flames. All posts claimed that the footage was indeed the crash that killed Bryant, writing “actual footage” and “Rest in Peace Kobe Bryant” in their titles and captions.

The video has nothing to do with the late Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard.

What is making the rounds on social media is a netizen’s video of the crash of a rescue helicopter on Dec. 29, 2018, near Jebel Jais mountain in the United Arab Emirates. Local media reported that the aircraft clipped the zipline on the mountain -- famed to be the world’s longest -- before it tailspun and killed all four crew members on board.

The oldest traceable copy of the video online can be tracked down to a 56-second clip uploaded by YouTube channel aviatrix on Jan. 5, 2019. The last comment on the video prior to the Jan 26 crash that killed Bryant and eight others was made about a month ago. For the past two days, netizens have been swarming in on the video, with some offering condolences in the comments section. Others asked whether the footage was really that of the recent incident.

Other versions uploaded by netizens are a re-upload of aviatrix’s video on Instagram by user @aviswithtthelatest on Jan. 27, whose username can be seen as a watermark, and an edited version of aviatrix’s video that plays the crash on a loop, with slow-mo effect.

The fake posts were published a few hours after news broke that the helicopter carrying Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others crashed near the Calabasas hillside in California on Jan. 26 (U.S. time). Investigation into the cause of the incident is in progress.

The false posts have been viewed collectively by over 200,000 people and were shared by the thousands.


(Editor's Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)

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