Kobe Bryant’s Wife Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Helicopter Crash


Lily Earwood, Contributor

Vanessa Bryant, Kobe Bryant’s wife, filed a lawsuit against the helicopter company that owned the aircraft that was transporting her husband, daughter Gigi, and seven other passengers that crashed in January. Her lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and stated that the pilot failed to operate the helicopter safely. She seeks general damages, economic damages, and punitive damages (CNN).

On Jan. 26, when the passengers were flying to a youth basketball game that was being held at Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, the helicopter crashed into a hillside near Los Virgenes Road and Willow Glen Street because of the extremely thick fog (Los Angeles Times).

The pilot, Ara Zobayan, who also died in the crash, and the company, Island Express Helicopters Inc., were both accused in the lawsuit. In particular, Zobayan was accused of eight acts of negligence, including failing to correctly assess the weather, taking off in conditions that he wasn’t permitted to, and not controlling the helicopter successfully. Zobayan had attempted flying in the heavy fog even though all the nearby police departments had grounded their aircraft (The Guardian).

However, this was not Zobayan’s first violation. In 2015, he was disciplined for breaking federal flight rules. As a result, he just received counseling. He was also flying for Island Express at the time of that incident (Bleacher Report).

Island Express Helicopter Inc. said that the crash was a tragic accident, but they wouldn’t be commenting on any of the pending litigation. Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the incident (NBC).