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Family Members of Kobe Bryant Crash Victims Sue Helicopter Company

— April 23, 2020

Family members of passengers who died along with Kobe Bryant and his daughter have decided to sue Island Express Helicopters Inc. and Island Express Holding Corp. for wrongful death.

Earlier this year, Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and several others perished in a helicopter crash after attempting to fly through unfavorable weather. The news shocked people across the globe and numerous memorials were set up to pay tribute to the basketball legend and his daughter. But what about the other passengers on the helicopter? In total, the fatal crash claimed the lives of Payton Chester, 13; Sarah Chester, 45; Alyssa Altobelli, 14; Keri Altobelli, 46; John Altobelli, 56; Christina Mauser, 38; and the helicopter’s pilot, Ara Zobayan, 50. Now, family members of four of those passengers have decided to follow the lead of Kobe’s wife, Vanessa, and filed two wrongful death lawsuits against the companies that owned and operated the doomed aircraft.

Helicopter Cockpit
Helicopter Cockpit; image courtesy of Free-Photos via Pixabay,

The lawsuits were filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and come on the heels of a wrongful death suit that Vanessa Bryant filed earlier this year against Island Express Helicopters Inc. That company operated the Sikorsky and is owned by Island Express Holding Corp., also named in the lawsuit. 

Unlike Mrs. Bryant’s lawsuit, the two new suits are only seven pages long and “do not name the dead pilot, Ara Zobayan, or his representative, as a defendant.” The only thing the suits claim is that the “two companies were careless and negligent.”

Who were the suits filed on behalf, though? Well, one lawsuit was filed by the “two surviving children of Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli and his wife Keri.” They were traveling on the helicopter with Kobe because their daughter, Alyssa, played basketball with Gianna. Alyssa also perished in the crash. The other lawsuit was filed by the husband and three surviving children of Christina Mauser. Mauser helped out as a coach for the girl’s basketball team. Prior to the crash, the group was on their way to a January 26, 2020 basketball tournament. Unfortunately, it ended up crashing just northwest of Los Angeles due to thick fog.

Initial investigations by the National Transportation Safety Board claimed there “were no signs of engine failure from the wreckage recovered.” In fact, it was discovered that Zobayan had “nearly navigated the helicopter out of blinding clouds when the aircraft suddenly turned and plunged into the mountainside.” In Vanessa’s lawsuit, which was filed the same day that a large public memorial service took place for Kobe, she accused Zobayan of being negligent and careless for choosing to fly in the fog. She argued the flight should have been aborted. 


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