Kobe Bryant’s Widow Sues Helicopter Operator for Fatal Crash

(Bloomberg) -- Kobe Bryant’s widow sued the owner of the helicopter that crashed in California last month, killing the retired basketball legend, their 13-year-old daughter and seven others.

Vanessa Bryant is seeking compensatory and punitive damages from Island Express Helicopter Inc. for negligence, according to a complaint submitted Monday in California Superior Court in Los Angeles. The lawsuit has yet to be processed and accepted by the court.

Kobe Bryant’s Widow Sues Helicopter Operator for Fatal Crash

Kobe Bryant, 41, his daughter, Gianna, and the others were killed when the Sikorsky S-76B helicopter slammed into the side of a brush-covered hillside while flying through dense clouds near Calabasas, California. The group was on its way to a basketball game at the Mamba Sports Academy Bryant founded in Thousand Oaks, California.

Island Express referred all inquiries to the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the cause of the accident.

The helicopter operator’s pilots are only certified to fly under “visual flight rules,” according to the lawsuit. When the helicopter neared Burbank, weather observation reported cloudy “instrument flight rules” conditions, and the pilot requested special clearance to proceed in reduced visibility, the complaint says.

Vanessa Bryant claims the pilot should have aborted the flight when he became aware of the weather conditions. According to her suit, Island Express also knew or should have known Federal Aviation Administration had previously cited the pilot for violating visual flight rules.

The NTSB said last month the helicopter, which wasn’t equipped with so-called “black box” cockpit voice and data recorders, requested permission to climb to avoid a cloud layer, then made a descending turn and struck a hillside. An air-traffic controller radioed back to the pilot, asking him what he planned to do, but there was no reply.

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