A relative of Ara George Zobayan — the pilot who flew the helicopter that killed Kobe Bryant, Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others including Ara himself — responds to Vanessa Bryant’s wrongful death suit.
In a statement obtained by TMZ on Monday, Ara’s representative blames the passengers for the January 26 crash because of their “knowing and voluntary encounter with the risks involved.”
“Any injuries or damages to plaintiffs and/or their decedent were directly caused in full or in part by the negligence or fault of plaintiffs and/or their decedent, including their knowing and voluntary encounter with the risks involved, and that this negligence was a substantial factor in causing their purported damages, for which this answering defendant bears no responsibility,” it stated.
In February, Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s widow and Gianna’s mother, filed a wrongful death suit against a rep or successor for Ara alleging the pilot 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.
(On the morning of the incident, the Los Angeles Police Department grounded its air support because of fog and poor visibility.)
Vanessa’s counsel also referenced Ara’s May 2015 Federal Aviation Administration violation for flying without permission into airspace with reduced visibility.
Additionally, Vanessa listed the helicopter company, Island Express Helicopters Inc., as a defendant, alleging they failed to supervise and train Ara, allowed him to fly in unsafe weather, failed to install an alarm system that would have warned him he was close to hitting the ground, and, overall, did not implement reasonable flight safety rules and policies.
At the time of Vanessa’s filing, a representative for the transportation business told TMZ, “This was a tragic accident. We will have no comment on the pending lawsuit."
Last month, the surviving relatives of the Altobelli and Mauser families filed separate lawsuits against Island Express Helicopters Inc., alleging that their negligence was responsible for the deaths of college baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri, and their 14-year-old daughter Alyssa, as well as girls basketball coach Christina Mauser.
Sarah Chester and her 13-year-old daughter Payton were also killed in the collision.
R.I.P. to the victims of this horrific tragedy.