Vanessa Bryant Sues Over Deaths of Kobe, Gigi

Alleges helicopter company and pilot took unnecessary risks on day of fatal crash
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2020 1:27 PM CST
Vanessa Bryant Sues Helicopter Company
An image of Vanessa Bryant, from left, Kobe Bryant, Natalia Bryant, and Gianna Bryant appears during the Kobe Bryant tribute segment at the 51st NAACP Image Awards at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Pasadena, Calif.   (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Kobe Bryant didn't have to die, according to a new lawsuit filed by his widow. Vanessa Bryant is suing Island Express, the company that owned the helicopter the NBA star and his 13-year-old daughter were in when it crashed Jan. 26 in California, killing them and seven others on board. The wrongful death suit contends that the company was only allowed to fly under visual flight rules, and the severe fog on the day of the fatal flight did not allow operation under those rules, TMZ reports. It also alleges that the pilot (who was killed in the crash) was negligent in eight ways, per KTLA, including not properly assessing and monitoring the weather and not calling off the flight once he realized how cloudy it was. The suit says he was flying at 180mph in a steep decline before crashing into a Calabasas hillside.

According to the lawsuit, the pilot had been disciplined in 2015 for flying into an airspace with reduced visibility, thus violating the visual flight rule minimums; he was working for Island Express at the time. The suit also alleges the helicopter itself was unsafe, though it does not offer details; Bleacher Report notes it did not have a terrain awareness and warning system. Bryant is asking for punitive damages due to the pilot and the company acting recklessly, and she also wants damages for "pre-impact" trauma, or the fear and terror her husband and daughter likely experienced in the moments before the actual crash as the pilot tried to get out of the fog. The news came as the Staples Center held a memorial for Kobe and Gianna Monday; see much more on that here. (Read more Kobe Bryant stories.)

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