Kobe Bryant crash: Vanessa Bryant files wrongful death suit against helicopter operator, per reports
The suit alleges pilot Ara Zobayan was 'negligent' in flying into low-visibility conditions
As thousands of people gathered inside Staples Center on Monday to honor the lives of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, both of whom were killed in the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of nine people, Vanessa Bryant's attorneys filed a wrongful death suit against Island Express Helicopters and Island Express Holding Corp. -- the company that operated the helicopter -- per multiple reports.
Though the cause of the crash has yet to be officially confirmed, poor visibility in conditions foggy enough for the Los Angeles Police Department to ground its helicopters is widely believed to have played a major role. The suit, per the Los Angeles Times, alleges that pilot Ara Zobayan, who was also one of the nine victims, failed "to use ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft" and was "negligent."
This, also, from NBC News:
[Vanessa] Bryant alleges in the suit that the pilot failed to abort the flight even though he knew of cloudy conditions. The suit also says Zobayan flew the helicopter into conditions in which he couldn't viably navigate using visual references, forcing him to use instrument flight rules (IFR), and failed to avoid or keep a safe distance between the aircraft and obstacles in the flight path.
Zobayan was an experienced pilot with more than 8,000 hours of flying time. Kawhi Leonard has spoken about using Zobayan as a pilot on occasion. Island Express Helicopters was not licensed as a company to fly using instruments, which become necessary in low-visibility conditions.
Zobayan reportedly did have the proper certification to fly via instruments, but generally speaking pilots are bound by the licensing of the company for which they're flying. Zobayan, as first reported by the Los Angeles Times, had been previously reprimanded in 2015 for flying into airspace with poor visibility without permission.
Vanessa Bryant, per NBC News, is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
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