Vanessa Bryant settles with helicopter company over Kobe Bryant crash

Bryant and the families of others killed last January had filed a lawsuit against Island Express Helicopters Inc.

Vanessa Bryant and the families of the six others killed in the helicopter crash last January that took the life of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, have settled with the helicopter company. 

The settlement was filed with a federal judge on Tuesday, but the terms are confidential and will not be disclosed. 

Vanessa Bryant has agreed to settle a lawsuit against the owners of the helicopter and the estate of the pilot who was flying it when it crashed, killing her NBA Hall of Famer husband Kobe Bryant, their daughter and six others. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The families had filed a lawsuit against Island Express Helicopters Inc., as well as the estate of pilot Ara Zobayan, who was also killed in the crash on Jan. 26, 2020. 

Federal investigators found that Zobayan had climbed sharply in the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter before banking abruptly and plunging into the Calabasas hills. All nine on board were killed instantly. 

The National Transportation Safety Board report ruled that pilot error was the cause of the crash. Several missteps caused Zobayan to become disoriented, and he believed he was climbing while the craft was plunging. 

According to The Los Angeles Times, “The lawsuit accused Zobayan, Bryant’s longtime pilot, of several acts of negligence, including failing to abort the flight, monitoring and assessing the weather, and failing to keep a safe distance between natural obstacles and the helicopter.” 

Island Express Helicopters was also found to have conducted inadequate reviews and oversight of safety matters. 

In addition to Bryant and his daughter, her teammate Alyssa Altobelli and both of her parents were killed in the copter crash, as well as Payton Chester and her mother, plus a coach of the youth team, Christina Mauser. 

Vanessa Bryant is still suing Los Angeles County for negligence and invasion of privacy after several sheriff’s deputies took and shared photos of the crash site, including of her famous husband’s remains. That suit notes that she is seeking to “make an example” of the deputies for the community. 

In September of 2020, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law inspired by the Bryant crash that would prohibit first responders from taking photos of dead bodies. 

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