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Families sue helicopter company in deadly Kobe Bryant crash

Investigators work at the scene of a helicopter crash that killed former NBA star Kobe Bryant on January 26, 2020, in Calabasas, California. (David McNew/Getty Images)

ANGELES (AP) — Family members of four of the eight passengers killed in
a helicopter crash with Kobe Bryant and his daughter have joined the
NBA star’s widow in filing wrongful death lawsuits against the companies
that owned and operated the aircraft.

The suits on behalf of
three members of one family, and a woman who helped coach Bryant’s
13-year-old daughter in basketball, were filed electronically Sunday in
Los Angeles Superior Court.

The pair of lawsuits comes about two
months after Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, the mother of Gianna, 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 email
from The Associated Press requesting comment was not immediately

Unlike Vanessa Bryant’s lengthy lawsuit, the new
identical 7-page cases do not name the dead pilot, Ara Zobayan, or his
representative, as a defendant. All the suits allege that the two
companies were careless and negligent.

One suit was filed by two
children of Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his
wife, Keri, and their daughter Alyssa, who played basketball with
Gianna. Another suit was filed by the husband and three children of
Christina Mauser, who helped Bryant coach the girls’ basketball team

The group was heading to a basketball tournament Jan. 26 when the chopper crashed in thick fog northwest of Los Angeles.

initial National Transportation Safety Board report said there were no
signs of engine failure from the wreckage recovered. Zobayan had nearly
navigated the helicopter out of blinding clouds when the aircraft
suddenly turned and plunged into the mountainside.

Bryant, who filed the suit the same day as her husband’s large public
memorial service in February, alleged that Zobayan was careless and
negligent to fly in the fog and should have aborted the flight.

Also killed in the crash were Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton, who was another of Gianna’s teammates.