Vanessa Bryant has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the owner of the helicopter company in the crash that killed her husband Kobe Bryant and 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the complaint was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Fillmore-based Island Express Holding Corp. and Island Express Helicopter. The lawsuit alleges that pilot Ara Zobayan, who also died in the crash, failed “to use ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft” and was negligent.
The lawsuit also stated, “Defendant Island Express Helicopters authorized, directed and/or permitted a flight with full knowledge that the subject helicopter was flying into unsafe weather conditions.” The 27-count complaint seeks compensatory and punitive damages. While the amount is not specified, the assumption is that Vanessa Bryant could be awarded millions.
An attorney representing Island Express, declined to comment and only wrote in an email to the Los Angeles Times, “This was a tragic accident.”
On February 8, a preliminary report of the crash was released citing that the Zobayan was just 100 feet, or 12 seconds, away from exiting heavy clouds when, instead of continuing to increase altitude, he made a left turn and crashed into the terrain at 180 mph.
“If you exit the bottom of the clouds at 4,000 feet per minute at that high speed, you’ve certainly lost control of the aircraft,” air safety consultant Kipp Lau of the National Transportation Safety Board said. “Once you break out of the clouds it’s clear. Everything lines up with the body.”
Another aviation expert claimed Zobayan, who had piloted Kobe Bryant many times before, was likely trying to maneuver quickly to clear clouds by moving the aircraft up and forward, but made a fatal error with a left turn. The report also stated that it’s most likely that the helicopter crashed fully in-tact.
Kobe, Gianna, along with seven other people, were killed on January 26 while taking a helicopter to the Mamba Academy for basketball practice in nearby Thousand Oaks.
The public memorial for both father and daughter occurred earlier on Monday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Watch part of Vanessa Bryant’s touching speech below: