Vanessa Bryant, families reach settlement in helicopter crash that killed Kobe


Vanessa Bryant has reached a settlement with the company that operated the helicopter involved in the deadly crash that killed her husband, former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, her 13-year-old daughter and seven others last year. 

Bryant and the families of the other victims filed a lawsuit against Island Express Helicopters following the January 26, 2020 crash in the Los Angeles suburb of Calabasas. The suit claimed the pilot, Ara Zobayan, flew at a high rate of speed and that the chopper wasn’t safe to fly. 

“Plaintiffs and Defendants jointly report that they have agreed to settle their claims in the above-entitled action,” according to documents filed in court Tuesday.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed and a judge still needs to approve the agreement. 

Zobayan’s estate was also named as a defendant in the wrongful-death suit. He was previously disciplined in 2015 for violating flying rules by traversing into areas with low visibility. 

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the cause of the crash was likely caused by Zobayan’s “spatial disorientation.” 

An NTSB official said there was likely added self-pressure on the pilot to complete the trip despite the weather conditions, due to his relationship with the client. But the agency concluded that there was no added outside pressure on the pilot to carry out the flight.

“The pilot took pride in these positions with both the client and Island Express. They had a good relationship with the client and likely did not want to disappoint them by not completing the flight. This self-induced pressure can adversely affect pilot decision-making and judgment,” the NTSB official said.

The crash killed Bryant, daughter Gianna Bryant, along with Alyssa Altobelli, John Altobelli, and Keri Altobelli; Payton Chester and Sarah Chester; Christina Mauser, and Zobayan.

In its own lawsuit, Island Express Helicopters sued two air traffic controllers who it alleges are to blame for the crash. The suit alleges the crash was a result of a “series of erroneous acts and/or omissions” 

Bryant also filed a lawsuit against the Los County Sheriff’s Department over deputies allegedly sharing photos of the crash site with people not involved in the case. 

“The discomfort and distress she has suffered from government personnel using graphic photos of her deceased loved ones as gossip fodder is very real,” a court filing from her attorneys reads. 

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Bryant has also been sued by her mother, who claims that before her husband’s death, the basketball icon had “promised to take care of” Laine “for the rest of her life.”

She told People that her mother is “continuing to try and find ways to extort a financial windfall from our family.”

Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.



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