Kobe Bryant’s widow settles lawsuit against pilot and helicopter firm over fatal crash

US News

Kobe Bryant’s widow has agreed to settle a lawsuit over the helicopter crash that killed the basketball star, his daughter and seven others.

The group died when their helicopter crashed into a hillside in thick fog and burst into flames on 26 January 2020.

They were on their way to a youth basketball tournament at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy and crashed in the San Fernando Valley, north of Los Angeles.

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Emergency crews at Bryant crash site

Vanessa Bryant and relatives of the other victims filed a settlement agreement with a federal judge in LA on Tuesday, but the terms of the deal are confidential and won’t be made public.

If approved by the court, it would end a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit against the operator of the helicopter and the estate of the pilot.

A National Transportation Safety Board report, released in February, blamed pilot Ara Zobayan for the crash.

It found poor decisions led him to fly blindly into cloud where he became disoriented and thought he was climbing when he was actually descending.

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Ara Zobayan has been named on social media as the pilot
Image:
A report blamed poor decisions by pilot Ara Zobayan for the crash

The report also criticised the aircraft’s owner, Island Express Helicopters, for poor oversight of safety matters.

The families’ lawsuit had claimed the company failed to train or supervise Zobayan properly. It also said he was negligent to fly in fog and should have aborted the flight.

Island Express Helicopters said the crash was “an act of God” and denied responsibility.

It is countersuing two federal air traffic controllers, claiming the crash was caused by their “erroneous acts and/or omissions”.

As well as Bryant and his daughter Gianna, the others killed were Orange baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa, Christina Mauser, who helped Bryant coach his daughter’s basketball team, and Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton.

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