Sport Families sue helicopter company for crash in Kobe Bryant's...

Families sue helicopter company for crash in Kobe Bryant’s death

LOS ANGELES – Members of the families of four of the eight passengers killed along with Kobe Bryant and their daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash joined the widow of the NBA star and also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against from the companies that own and operate the aircraft.

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Lawsuits on behalf of three family members and a woman who helped train Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter were filed electronically on Sunday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The pair of lawsuits comes nearly two months after Bryant’s widow Vanessa also sued Island Express Helicopters Inc., which operated the Sikorsky, and its owner, Island Express Holding Corp.

A person who answered the phone at Island Express Helicopters declined to comment, and an AP email seeking comment was not immediately responded to.

Unlike Vanessa Bryant’s extensive lawsuit, the identical new seven-page cases do not mention the deceased pilot, Ara Zobayan, or his representative, as defendants. All of the lawsuits allege that the two companies were careless and negligent.

A lawsuit was filed by two boys from Orange Coast College from coach John Altobelli and his wife Keri, who died in the accident along with their daughter Alyssa, who played basketball with Gianna. Another was introduced by the husband and three children of Christina Mauser, who was helping Bryant to coach the women’s basketball team.

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The group was digesting a basketball tournament on January 26, when the helicopter collided amid dense fog northwest of Los Angeles.

An initial report by the National Transportation Safety Board indicated there were no signs of engine failure in the recovered fuselage. Zobayan had pulled the aircraft out of thick clouds when he suddenly found the side of the hill.

Vanessa Bryant, who filed the lawsuit the same day a public tribute was held for her husband in February, accused Zobayan of being careless and negligent for flying in the mist and for not aborting the flight.

Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton, who was also a partner on Gianna’s team, also died in the crash.

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