In a recent deposition for her lawsuit against Los Angeles County, Vanessa Bryant revealed she learned of the death of her husband Kobe Bryant and their daughter Gianna from social media, court documents obtained by PEOPLE revealed.
Kobe, 41, and 13-year-old Gianna passed away in a tragic helicopter crash last year. They were on board the Sikorsky S-76B alongside seven other people who also died. And following their deaths, Vanessa filed a lawsuit alleging the leakage and subsequent circulation of the photos of the helicopter crash site caused her emotional distress.
In the October 12 deposition, the 39-year-old said her family’s assistant initially informed her that the helicopter Kobe and Gianna had boarded got involved in “an accident” and “there were five survivors.”
After trying to get in touch with her husband and leaving her two youngest daughters in the care of her mother, Vanessa said, “I was holding onto my phone, because obviously I was trying to call my husband back, and all these notifications started popping up on my phone, saying ‘RIP Kobe. RIP Kobe. RIP Kobe.’”
Vanessa said she also tried chartering a helicopter to the crash site in Calabasas, but she was unable to because of unfavorable weather conditions. She was then told to go to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
But Vanessa said that though Sheriff Alex Villanueva ultimately told her about the deaths of her husband and daughter as well as the seven others, that confirmation came hours after officers at the sheriff’s department failed to respond to her request for an update on the accident.
She added she asked for the area the crash occurred to “be designated a no-fly zone and protected from photographers.” “And I said, ‘If you can’t bring my husband and baby back, please make sure that no one takes photographs of them. Please secure the area,’” Vanessa said in reference to what she allegedly told Villanueva.
In a previous court filing, Vanessa claimed that despite her aforementioned plea, “photos of the remains quickly spread within the Sheriff’s Department as deputies transmitted them to one another via text message and AirDrop. Within forty-eight hours, at least 10 members of the Sheriff’s Department obtained photos of the victims’ remains on their personal cell phones despite having no legitimate governmental use of the photos,” PEOPLE reported.
Asked how the leaked photographs caused her “emotional distress” during the deposition, Vanessa said, “The impact of the helicopter crash was so damaging, I just don’t understand how someone can have no regard for life and compassion, and, instead, choose to take that opportunity to photograph lifeless and helpless individuals for their own sick amusement.”
“My life will never be the same without my husband and daughter,” she continued, adding that she has since made efforts to “avoid social media and reading comments” about her deceased husband and daughter.
Vanessa said she wants “accountability.”