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Families Of Victims Killed In Kobe Bryant Crash Sue Helicopter Owner, Operator

The families of Christina Mauser and John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli blame their loved ones’ deaths on negligence.

By Daniel Egitto
LAPD Aircraft Were Grounded During Kobe Bryant Crash

The families of four victims of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Giana and seven others have joined the NBA legend’s widow in suing the companies that owned and operated the helicopter.

Former basketball coach Christina Mauser, parents John and Keri Altobelli, and the Altobellis’ 14-year-old daughter, Alyssa, were among the nine people onboard Bryant’s helicopter when it crashed into a hillside outside Calabasas, California on Jan. 26, killing everyone onboard.

Mauser and the Altobellis’ surviving family members filed wrongful death claims Sunday against the company operating the helicopter, Island Express Helicopters Inc., as well as the helicopter’s owner, Island Express Holding Corp., NBC News reports. The families are suing the companies for economic and emotional damages.

The families, along with the widowed Vanessa Bryant, claimed their loved ones’ death was a result of company negligence.

The Los Angeles Police Department’s helicopters were all grounded that morning due to fog — but Bryant’s pilot, Ara Zobayan, requested special clearance to continue flying, according to CBS News.

In a wrongful death lawsuit filed on Feb. 24, Bryant’s widow alleged that Zobayan was negligent on several counts.

Because it was too foggy for Zobayan to fly under visual flight rules, he had requested permission to fly under instrument flight rules. But Zobayan was not licensed to fly under these conditions, according to Bryant’s complaint.

Bryant holds that Zobayan should have aborted the flight due to bad weather, and that the crash was a result of his bad decisions. She believes Island Express Helicopters should be held liable for their pilot’s actions.

Like the Mauser and Altobelli families, Bryant has been suing for economic and noneconomic damages — including all “past and future lost income” resulting from her superstar husband’s death.

The crash also killed Sarah Chester, 45, and her 13-year-old daughter Payton. Their family has not filed a lawsuit.

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