Kobe Bryant helicopter crash: Families of victims file lawsuits

Family members of four passengers killed alongside Kobe Bryant and his daughter in a helicopter crash have joined the basketball star’s widow in suing the owners of the aircraft.

Bryant, 41, Gianna, 13, and seven others, including the pilot, died in the crash in Calabasas, north of Los Angeles, in foggy conditions in January.

The NBA star’s widow, Vanessa, launched a lawsuit in February, suing Island Express Helicopters Inc, which operated the aircraft, and its owner Island Express Holding Corp.

The family of John Altobelli, son JJ Altobelli, his fiance Carly Konigsfeld and daughter Lexi Altobelli, speak during a memorial service honoring their father John, his wife, Keri, and their daughter Alyssa at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on February 10, 2020 in Anaheim, California. The Altobellis were traveling with former Lakers star Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and four others when the helicopter crashed Jan. 26 in foggy conditions
Image:Baseball coach John Altobelli and his wife and daughter were killed in the crash – his family held a memorial service in February
Christina Mauser's husband said he was devastated by his wife's death. Pic: Matt Mauser/Facebook
Image:Victim Christina Mauser’s husband is among the relatives who have filed lawsuits. Pic: Matt Mauser/Facebook

Now, relatives of four other victims have filed two further wrongful death lawsuits against the owners and operators of the helicopter.

One has been submitted by two children of John Altobelli, an Orange Coast College baseball coach who died alongside his wife Keri and their daughter Alyssa, who played basketball with Gianna.

The husband and three children of Christina Mauser, who helped Mr Bryant coach the girls’ basketball team, have filed the other lawsuit.

While Vanessa Bryant’s case names the dead pilot, Ara Zobayan, and his representative as defendants, the new cases do not.

More from Kobe Bryant

  • Kobe Bryant: Claims LA sheriff’s deputies shared graphic photos of crash site

  • Vanessa Bryant posts heartbreaking message over deaths of Kobe and Gigi in helicopter crash

  • Kobe Bryant crash: Helicopter engines did not fail, say investigators

  • Kobe Bryant crash witnesses describe hearing explosion and seeing flames

  • Kobe Bryant death: Helicopter company was not licensed to fly in fog, says official

  • Kobe Bryant’s wife posts family portrait and breaks silence after helicopter tragedy

Mrs Bryant claims the pilot was careless and negligent to fly given the cloudy weather conditions, and that the flight should have been aborted.

All the cases allege that the two companies were careless and negligent.

Island Express Helicopters has been contacted by the Associated Press news agency, and a worker who answered the phone reportedly declined to comment on the cases. An email from the news agency requesting comment was not immediately returned.

Vanessa and Kobe Bryant married in 2001
Image:Vanessa and Kobe Bryant married in 2001
Ara Zobayan has been named on social media as the pilot
Image:Pilot Ara Zobayan also died in the crash

The crash happened on 26 January, as the group was travelling to a youth basketball tournament, with the helicopter plunging down into the mountainside in thick fog.

An initial National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report said there were no signs of engine failure from the wreckage recovered.

“Viewable sections of the engines showed no evidence of an uncontained or catastrophic internal failure,” the NTSB said in the interim report.

Mr Zobayan, 50, had more than 8,200 hours of flight time and had nearly navigated the helicopter out of clouds when the aircraft suddenly turned and went down.

Weather conditions including heavy clouds, fog and limited visibility reported in the vicinity of the crash were clearly a problem, as audio from air traffic control and 911 calls have confirmed.

Also killed in the crash were Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton, who was another of Gianna’s teammates.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *