A wrongful death lawsuit filed by Kobe Bryant's wife claims the basketball legend may have survived the initial helicopter crash that killed him and eight others.
Bryant's widow Vanessa is suing the owner of the helicopter that crashed in fog and killed the former Los Angeles Lakers star and their 13-year-old daughter Gianna last month.
‘CAN’T DO THAT’: Disturbing new details about pilot in Kobe Bryant crash
Vanessa and her surviving daughters are listed as the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which claims that Kobe and Gianna suffered "pain and anguish" in the time between the initial crash and when they were killed.
The complaint says Vanessa and her daughters are seeking “damages (Kobe or Gianna) may have suffered between the time of injury and the time of death and for the recovery of which the deceased might have maintained an action had death not ensued including, but not limited to, mental anguish, physical disability, conscious pain and suffering, pre-impact terror, disfigurement, and further considering the aggravating circumstances attendant upon the fatal injury.”
The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court said the pilot was careless and negligent by flying in cloudy conditions on January 26 and should have aborted the flight.
The lawsuit names Island Express Helicopters Inc. and also targets pilot Ara Zobayan's legal representative, listed only as “Doe 1” until a name can be determined.
Vanessa Bryant's 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 lawsuit was filed as a public memorial service for Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and all the victims, including Zobayan, was being held at the arena where Bryant played most of his career.
Calls to Island Express seeking comment were not answered and its voicemail was full.
The company issued a statement January 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 National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the cause of the crash into a hillside in Calabasas on the outskirts of Los Angeles County.
The cause of death for all passengers was determined to be blunt force trauma, with the NTSB describing it as a "high-energy impact crash".
The LA County Coroner's final autopsy report is expected to shed more light on Kobe and Gianna’s deaths but conclusive evidence that they survived the initial impact of the crash will be difficult to determine.
Emotional scenes at Kobe Bryant memorial
Monday's memorial for Bryant and his daughter Gianna has drawn a sellout crowd to Staples Centre in downtown Los Angeles.
The event began with Beyonce singing her hits ‘XO’ and ‘Halo.’ An emotional Jimmy Kimmel told the audience about the many Kobe murals that have appeared around the city since his death last month.
Bryant's widow, Vanessa, brought tears to people's eyes as she spoke, giving an intimate portrait of her husband and daughter.
She said the world saw Kobe as a celebrity and basketball legend - the Black Mamba - but to her he was her best friend and protector.
Vanessa described him as a loving husband and devoted father with a tender heart who was “the MVP of girl dads.”
He loved to watch romantic movies with them and put them to bed every night.
“God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other. He had to bring them home to have them together,” Vanessa said to close her remarks.
“Babe, you take care of our Gigi. And I’ve got Nana [Natalia], BB [Bianca] and Coco [Capri]. We’re still the best team.
“We love and miss you, Boo boo and Gigi. May you both rest in peace and have fun in heaven until we meet again one day. We love you both and miss you. Forever and always. Mommy.”
Vanessa said she and Kobe planned to renew their vows and travel the world together.
They talked about how they looked forward to becoming the “cool grandparents” after their kids have their own children.