Vanessa Bryant sues copter company for deaths

LOS ANGELES — The widow of Kobe Bryant has sued the owner of the helicopter that crashed in fog and killed her husband and their 13-year-old daughter last month.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed by Vanessa Bryant in Los Angeles says the pilot, Ara Zobayan, was careless and negligent by flying in cloudy conditions on Jan. 26 and should have aborted the flight. Zobayan was among the nine people killed in the crash.

The 27-count complaint against Island Express Helicopters and Island Express Holding Corp. seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. The company issued a statement on Jan. 30 on its website saying the shock of the crash had prompted it to suspend service until it was appropriate for staff and customers.

The lawsuit asserts that Zobayan was negligent in eight different ways, including failing to properly assess the weather, flying into conditions he wasn’t cleared for and failing to control the helicopter.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which is still investigating the crash, said in a preliminary report earlier this month that the helicopter showed no sign of engine failure and that Zobayan became disoriented before crashing into a hillside in Calabasas, California, while trying to get to clear skies.

The lawsuit was filed as a public memorial service for Kobe Bryant, daughter Gianna and the other victims was being held at Staples Center, the arena where Bryant played his entire NBA career.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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