Island Express Helicopters Inc. — the owners of the helicopter involved in the crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others — deny responsibility for the fatal January 26 incident.
In response to the February wrongful death suit filed by Kobe’s widow and Gianna’s mother, Vanessa Bryant, the transportation service claims both Kobe and Gianna “voluntarily assumed the risk of the accident” when they boarded the chopper on the day of their deaths.
“Kobe Bryant and GB [Gigi] had actual knowledge of all of the circumstances, particular dangers, and an appreciation of the risks involved and the magnitude thereof, and proceeded to encounter a known risk, and voluntarily assumed the risk of the accident, injury ... thereby barring or reducing [Vanessa’s] claim for damages,” they said in court documents filed Monday and obtained by TMZ.
TMZ also reports that Island Express considers the crash to be an “act of God,” despite allegations that pilot Ara Zobayan, also killed, accelerated to about 180 miles per hour in heavy fog in a steep decline before the collision.
Overall, Island Express alleges the passengers “had actual knowledge of all of the circumstances, particular dangers, and an appreciation of the risks involved and the magnitude thereof, and proceeded to encounter a known risk, and voluntarily assume the risk of the accident, injury, and damages,” which they argue absolves them of fault.
Vanessa also sued a representative or successor for Ara, accusing the pilot of negligence.
Last week, Ara’s brother, Berge Zobayan, issued a response — similar to the one from Island Express — alleging that the passengers were at fault because of their “knowing and voluntary encounter with the risks involved.”
The surviving family members of college baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri, and their 14-year-old daughter Alyssa, as well as girls basketball coach Christina Mauser, previously filed separate lawsuits against Island Express last month.
The other victims include Sarah Chester and her 13-year-old daughter Payton.