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Helicopter company involved in Kobe Bryant crash sues air traffic controllers



The company that operated the helicopter in the crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others has sued two air traffic controllers, blaming them for the incident.

The cross-complaint, filed in California Superior Court last week, accused two air traffic controllers at the Southern California TRACON, of “a series of erroneous acts and/or omissions” that caused the Jan. 26 crash.

“Had [the air traffic controllers] not engaged in the numerous negligent acts and/or omissions stated herein, then the Pilot [Ara Zobayan] would not have been forced to respond to multiple [air traffic control] requests and commands during the most critical phase of the flight,” the cross-complaint said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The helicopter company, Island Express, is itself facing lawsuits from Bryant’s family and other victims.

Island Express claims in the new lawsuit that one of the air traffic controllers declined a request for flight following by Zobayan.

Both the first air traffic controller and his replacement failed to properly communicate the circumstances during a shift change before the crash, according to the lawsuit. It claims one of the controllers did not properly end radar services, leading Zobayan to think he was still being monitored and that air traffic controllers “would have warned him of unsafe proximity to terrain.”

Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, accused Island Express of negligence in a February lawsuit, saying the deaths were the “direct result” of Zobayan’s actions. Zobayan’s estate, meanwhile has filed documents saying the passengers were aware of the risks before flying.

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation into the crash is ongoing.

The NTSB’s aircraft performance study indicated Zobayan told the air traffic controllers the craft was climbing while it was actually descending. Zobayan, the study says, “could have misperceived both pitch and roll angles” and been suffering from “spatial disorientation.”

The FAA told The Hill it does not comment on pending litigation.

Updated at 4:24 p.m.



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