Helicopter Company Counter Lawsuit Shifts The Blame In Crash That Killed Kobe Bryant

A helicopter company has filed a counter lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against two air traffic controllers. Island Express Helicopters alleges that the two controllers are responsible for the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his 13-year old daughter, Gianna, and seven others on January 26th in Calabasas.

Aviation Web reports that the lawsuit filed by Island Express Helicopters alleges that due to “a series of erroneous acts and omissions” on the part of air traffic controllers, Kyle Larson and Matthew Conley, were to blame for the fatal crash. The two air traffic controllers’ employment is both under the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Southern California Radar Approach Control Facility (TRACON). 

In the suit, Island Express Helicopters allege that the two controllers failed to properly communicate the termination of following the aircraft on control tower radar.  The lawsuit further alleges a lack of knowledge of current weather conditions, and “monopolizing the pilot’s attention during a critical phase of the flight by making multiple radio calls, requiring transponder ident, and requesting the pilot state where he was and what his intentions were” ultimately led to the crash.

Currently, there have been four lawsuits filed against Island Express Helicopters including one filed by Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant. Her lawsuit alleges negligence on the part of the pilot who flew the helicopter under unsafe weather conditions, which led to the crash.

According to a report that had been previously released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), there was no evidence of mechanical failure. The federal agency also noted in its report that the low clouds and mist caused visibility to be poor,  possibly causing the pilot to become confused.

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