Home Posts Vanessa Bryant Will Settle Lawsuit Over Helicopter Crash That Killed Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant
Vanessa Bryant Will Settle Lawsuit Over Helicopter Crash That Killed Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant

Vanessa Bryant Will Settle Lawsuit Over Helicopter Crash That Killed Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kobe Bryant's widow has agreed to settle a lawsuit against the pilot and owners of the helicopter that crashed last year, killing the NBA star, his daughter, Gianna, and seven other people.

Vanessa Bryant, her children, and relatives of other victims filed a notice of settlement agreement with a federal judge in Los Angeles on Tuesday, but the terms of the confidential agreement were not disclosed.

If approved by the court, the settlement, first reported by KABC-TV, would put an end to a negligence and wrongful death lawsuit filed against the pilot's estate as well as the owner and operator of the helicopter that crashed into a hillside on Jan. 26, 2020.

Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and six other passengers were flying from Orange County to Ventura County for a youth basketball tournament at his Mamba Sports Academy when the helicopter encountered thick fog in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles.

Pilot Ara Zobayan had nearly broken through the clouds when the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter banked sharply and plunged into the Calabasas hills below, killing all nine people on board instantly before flames engulfed the wreckage.

Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri, and their daughter Alyssa were also killed, as were Christina Mauser, who assisted Bryant in coaching his daughter's basketball team, and Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton, who were teammates of Gianna.

The National Transportation Safety Board issued a report in February blaming pilot error for the crash, stating that a series of poor decisions led Zobayan to fly blindly into a wall of clouds, where he became so disoriented that he thought the craft was climbing when it was plummeting.

Island Express Helicopters Inc. was also chastised by the agency for inadequate safety review and oversight.

The agreement would put an end to legal action against Zobayan's estate, Island Express Helicopters Inc., and its owner, Island Express Holding Corp. The suit alleged that the companies failed to properly train or supervise Zobayan, and that the pilot was careless and negligent in flying in fog and should have aborted the flight.

Island Express Helicopters has denied responsibility, claiming the crash was an "act of God" over which it had no control, and has countersued two Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers, claiming the crash was caused by their "series of erroneous acts and/or omissions."

The counter-suit against the federal government would be excluded from the settlement agreement.

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