Vanessa Bryant is suing the operator of the helicopter that her husband, daughter, and seven others were on when it crashed into a hillside.
Vanessa Bryant, Kobe Bryant’s widow, recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the operator of the helicopter her husband was on when it “crashed in foggy weather last month.” The tragic crash not only claimed Kobe’s life, but also the life of his and Vanessa’s 13-year-old daughter and seven others. At the moment the suit is seeking unspecified damages and names “Island Express Helicopters, its holding company and the heirs of its pilot, Ara Zobayan,” as defendants. Zobayan was one of the victims lost in the crash.
The suit accuses the defendants of 28 counts of negligence and breach of duty, and argues the defendants failed to “exercise ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft and failed to provide proper and safe aircraft services.” Additionally, the suit claims Zobayan “failed to properly monitor and assess the weather prior to takeoff, failed to abort the flight when he knew of the cloudy conditions, and failed to keep a safe distance between the helicopter and natural obstacles.” In addition, “Zobayan, an experienced pilot and instructor, improperly piloted the helicopter by visual orientation under limited-visibility conditions that require instrument-guided navigation,” according to the suit. As a result, the lawsuit argues the fatal crash happened because of Zobayan’s negligent conduct, “which defendant Island Express Helicopters is vicariously liable in all respects.”
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chimed in and said that although Zobayan was “licensed to fly by instruments in poor weather, Island Express was only permitted to fly by visual flight rules when carrying paying passengers.” While the initial crash report from NTSB didn’t find any signs of engine failure, it noted there were confirmed reports of “low clouds and fog at the time of the accident.” The NTSB also pointed out that the helicopter was not outfitted with “any kind of terrain awareness and warning system.” If the helicopter had the warning systems, it may have been able to warn “the pilot that the aircraft was getting dangerously close to the hillside.”