Buttigieg, Biden react to Kobe Bryant death


Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg hosts a town hall in West Des Moines, Iowa, on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Following the event, Buttigieg addressed the death of former NBA star Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash moments before Buttigieg took the stage. Addison Kliewer/Gaylord News.

Addison Kliewer

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa –– Moments before Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg took the stage at a town hall event on Sunday, former NBA star Kobe Bryant was reported to have died in a helicopter crash outside Calabasas, California. 

Buttigieg stood among a crowd of hundreds in West Des Moines, Iowa, to address gun safety, health care and education eight days before the 2020 Iowa caucuses. Shortly after the town hall, Buttigieg responded to the focus shifted to the news of Bryant’s death.

“I am shocked,” said Buttigieg. “And especially shocked that his daughters were reportedly there, as well.” 

Video by Christian Anderson

Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Maria Onore Bryant, were reported to be among the five victims of the crash. Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli was also reported to have died in the accident, according to the Orange County Register

The names of the remaining two victims were unknown as of early Sunday evening.

“It’s just very difficult to believe,” said Buttigieg. “Of course we’ll be thinking of, not just his family, but of everyone who is going to be impacted and mourning based on that news.” 

Across the city, former Vice President Joe Biden, another Democratic presidential candidate, campaigned at a block party in preparation for the caucuses. 

During his speech, Biden said he did not know Bryant well, but he had met him on a couple of occasions. 

Video by Stingray Schuller

“You know, it makes you realize that you’ve got to make every day count,” said Biden.

The LA County Sheriff’s Department tweeted that there were no survivors of the crash. 

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma.