Hours after news broke that his body had been recovered from an upstate New York lake, Kobe Bryant’s widow revealed Friday that she was devastated by the accident and has been forced to navigate the aftermath, which included being subjected to harassment from the crew of the search helicopter that killed her husband.
“It’s been a lot for her,” Bryant’s daughter Natalia Bryant, 19, said of Jeanie Bryant, who was following her father’s Nets basketball game Thursday night when their boat struck a submerged fishing line. “But she’s been good and she’s been through it.”
The 911 calls from the lake that brought the rescue were made public and captured the grim reality of the underwater search, captured only by a closed-circuit TV monitor that shows helicopters below. The video, however, failed to capture the emotion of the family and friends who had gathered, awaiting word of Bryant’s recovery.
At one point, Bryant’s younger sister, Porsha Bryant-Torgersen, worried aloud that her older brother would never be found.
“But the main thing I want to say is, I love you bro,” Porsha Bryant-Torgersen later told a neighbor. “I know you’re out there with the monsters out there, man.
“I just know I love you and I’m praying that you’re OK.”
Jeanie Bryant, 26, was an avid fisherman who had spent several hours in the lake with their two daughters after she had arrived home to Long Island. In statements released Friday by the Nassau County Sheriff’s Department, Jeanie Bryant was described as visibly upset while asking for help from the rescue crews.
“We’re looking for our son right now,” Jeanie Bryant was heard to say on the phone. “He’s on the other side of the lake, he’s out there by the anchor.”
A deputy dispatcher told Bryant: “We’re right there. We’re on the top of the lake. What happens if you go overboard?”
Jeanie Bryant responded: “We’re gonna try to get to him but he’s going to take us with him.”
She was heard saying, “That was him” before a crowd of concerned friends and relatives began praying. The 911 call was logged at 9:46 p.m. The next communication was made with the FWC, a popular state agency, at 9:50 p.m.
In addition to the videotape, a list of boats in the water around that time was put on the monitoring.
Nassau County Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun said early Friday that Jeanie Bryant was rescued by another rescue team just as her boat struck a debris field that included fishing lines and a dead body. She was pulled from the water and a medical helicopter was summoned. She suffered minor injuries and was in stable condition Friday, LeBrun said.
While several relatives of Bryant were on the ground, the recovery effort concentrated on the yacht. About nine hours after the recovery, a pool of water about 100 yards offshore was removed from the lake.
“I don’t think that he can say the same thing,” Porsha Bryant-Torgersen told the neighbor, who told her to calm down, according to the audio recording. “He wants to.”
“I think he’s screaming on the phone,” a friend replied.
Jeanie Bryant-Torgersen told the same neighbor to wait for her father when he was found.
“I don’t think so,” the woman replied. “But I just want him to hear the prayer right now.”
Bryant-Torgersen later told CNN: “I want accountability from all of them. I want them to know that I miss him.”
She continued: “I mean, like