Vanessa Bryant Urges Congress to Pass Helicopter Safety Bill Named After Kobe & Gianna

Vanessa Bryant shows support for a bill named after husband Kobe and daughter Gianna, who were killed in a January 26 helicopter crash with seven other victims.

Thursday in Washington, D.C., Democrats introduced the “Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act,” which would require all helicopters certified to carry six or more people to be equipped with a Terrain Awareness and Warning System, a flight data recorder, and a cockpit voice recorder.

“I strongly urge that the United States Congress pass a federal law that would improve the safety of helicopters operating in this country,” Vanessa said in statement. “I believe there is a chance that Kobe and Gianna would still be alive today if their helicopter had been equipped with the safety equipment required by this pending federal legislation.

“I believe that these safety measures will save many lives,” she continued. “As passengers traveling on aircrafts, we assume that proper safety measures are in order to prevent accidents from happening before we fly. It’s unfortunate that this is not the case, and aircraft companies must do their part to protect lives.”

Vanessa also said she was “deeply moved” when she learned that the bill would be named after her late husband and daughter.

“Having Kobe’s and Gianna’s names associated with this federal law that has the potential to save countless lives would be a fitting tribute to their memory,” she added.

Vanessa also proposed that the helicopter industry should “consider renaming the black box to Mamba 8 Box in honor of the three young Mamba team players, the two Mamba coaches and the three Mamba parents onboard, equaling eight.”

While “Black Mamba” was Kobe’s nickname, “Mambacita” was Gianna’s. Additionally, the helicopter that the nine victims rode in was traveling to Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California, for a youth basketball game.

California Representative Brad Sherman — who introduced similar legislation in January shortly after the tragedy — told CNN that the bill unveiled on Thursday is updated, as lawmakers now have the Bryant family’s support.

In February, Vanessa filed a wrongful death suit against the helicopter’s owner, Island Express Helicopters Inc., as well as a representative or successor for late pilot Ara Zobayan, alleging negligence.

According to new court documents filed last week, Vanessa is seeking “economic damages, non-economic damages, prejudgment interest, punitive damages, and other relief as the Court deems just and proper” from the suit.

“Although the total specific amount of personal injury damages that Plaintiff seeks is TBD, Kobe Bryant’s future lost earnings equals hundreds of millions of dollars,” the legal papers stated.

In April, the surviving relatives of college baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri, and their 14-year-old daughter Alyssa, as well as girls basketball coach Christina Mauser, filed separate wrongful death suits against Island Express as well.

Both Island Express and Berge Zobayan, the brother of Ara, issued similar responses to Vanessa’s lawsuit, claiming that Kobe and Gianna voluntarily assumed the risks when they boarded the chopper on the day of their deaths.

The crash also killed Sarah Chester and her 13-year-old daughter Payton.


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