BY Mohammed Awal, 7:30am February 25, 2020,

Vanessa Bryant sues helicopter operator over death of Kobe

Vanessa Bryant: Image: GettyImages

Vanessa Bryant has sued the owner of the company that operated the helicopter that crashed last month, killing her husband and daughter.

Kobe Bryant’s death shook the world to its core. Bryant, 41, died in a helicopter crash in the city of Calabasas, California. Seven others died in the crash.

As mourners gathered Monday at Staples Center for a memorial service to celebrate the lives of Kobe and Gianna Bryant, Vanessa’s attorneys were also busy filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the company that operated the helicopter.

The lawsuit which was filed in Los Angeles County Superior against Fillmore-base Island Express Holding Corp. and Island Express Helicopters alleges that the pilot Ara Zobayan was careless and negligent for flying when he knew the weather wasn’t good. Zobayan also died from the crash.

The Sikorsky S-76B helicopter was built in 1991 to carry VIPs like Bryant. When Island Express Holding Corp. of Van Nuys later bought the helicopter, it changed its tail number to N72EX.

It is the same craft Bryant took to his final game in April 2016.

“Defendant Island Express Helicopters authorized, directed and/or permitted a flight with full knowledge that the subject helicopter was flying into unsafe weather conditions,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit further alleges that Bryant died “as a direct result of the negligent conduct of Zobayan” for which “the company is vicariously liable in all respects,” The Los Angeles Times reported.

Zobayan’s estate was also named as defendant in the 27-count complaint, which seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

Speaking during the memorial, Vanessa eulogized Kobe “as a fierce competitor on the basketball court. The greatest of all time, a writer, an Oscar winner, and the Black Mamba. But to me, he was KobKob, my Boo-Boo, my Bae-Boo, my papi chulo. I was his VeBe, his principessa, his reina, Queen Mama — Mamba — and his [inaudible nickname].” 

She continued that she couldn’t see him as a celebrity nor just an incredible basketball player. He was her sweet husband and the beautiful father of her children. “He was mine. He was my everything,” said Vanessa.

Kobe and Vanessa had been together since the latter was 17-and-a-half years old. She was his first girlfriend, his first love, his wife, his best friend, his confidant and his protector. 

“He was the most amazing husband. Kobe loved me more than I could ever express or put into words. He was the early bird and I was the night owl, I was fire and he was ice, and vice versa at times. We balanced each other out. He would do anything for me.

“I have no idea how I deserved a man that loved and wanted me more than Kobe. He was charismatic, a gentleman, he was loving and adoring and romantic. He was truly the romantic one in our relationship,” she said of her departed husband.

“We really had an amazing love story. We loved each other with our whole beings, two perfectly imperfect people raising a beautiful family and our sweet and amazing girls,” Vanessa said.

On Gianna, Vanessa said she was “an amazingly sweet and gentle soul. She was very thoughtful and always kissed me good night and kissed me good morning. There were a few occasions where I was absolutely tired from being up with Bianka and Capri, and I thought she had left to school without saying goodbye. I text and say, “No kiss?” And Gianna would reply with, “Mama, I kissed you. You were asleep and I didn’t want to wake you. 

“She knew how much her morning and evening kisses meant to me, and she was so thoughtful to remember to kiss me every day. She was daddy’s girl, but I know she loved her mama, and she would always show me and tell me that she loved me. She was one of my very best friends.”

Last Edited by:Francis Akhalbey Updated: May 12, 2020


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