Kobe Bryant knew risks of flying before crash: report

Deceased pilot’s brother defends him in a lawsuit


Entertainment Desk May 12, 2020
A haunting moment of silence preceded the Houston Rockets' game against the Nuggets in Denver. PHOTO: AFP

The brother of the pilot in the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others argued in a court filing that the former Lakers star knew the risks of flying in a helicopter and his surviving family members aren’t entitled to damages from the pilot’s estate, reported LA Times.

Bryant’s widow Vanessa sued the estate of Ara Zobayan, the pilot, and the charter company that owned the helicopter, Island Express, in February. In the lawsuit, she accused Ara, who also died in the crash, of failing “to use ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft” and negligence.

Bryant scored 60 points in the Lakers' 101-96 win over the Utah Jazz on that night. PHOTO: AFP Bryant scored 60 points in the Lakers' 101-96 win over the Utah Jazz on that night. PHOTO: AFP

The answer to the complaint filed by Berge Zobayan in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Friday disputed the lawsuit’s claims.

“Any injuries or damages to plaintiffs and/or their decedent were directly caused in full or in part by the negligence or fault of plaintiffs and/or their decedent, including their knowing and voluntary encounter with the risks involved, and that this negligence was a substantial factor in causing their purported damages, for which this answering defendant bears no responsibility,” the answer said.

Island Express hasn’t filed an answer to the lawsuit stemming from the January crash in Calabasas amid dense fog on the way to a youth basketball game at Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy.

PHOTO: AFP PHOTO: AFP

In addition to Kobe, Gianna and Ara, the others who died were John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli; Payton and Sarah Chester and Christina Mauser. Surviving members of the Altobelli and Mauser families sued Island Express last month as well.

Vanessa’s lawsuit accused Ara, the longtime pilot for Kobe, of failing to abort the flight, not monitoring and assessing the weather, and failing to keep a safe distance between natural obstacles and the 1991 Sikorsky S-76B helicopter.

A case management conference in the lawsuit is scheduled for June 22.

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