The Families Involved in the Fatal Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash Are Filing Wrongful Death Suits

It’s been months since the tragic helicopter accident that took the lives of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant and seven others, but people are still not over the loss. What was supposed to be a routine helicopter ride, like the many others that Kobe had taken in the past, turned into one of the most horrific days in sport’s history. Kobe’s wife Vanessa Bryant has already filed a lawsuit against the helicopter company and now the Altobelli and Mauser families have filed wrongful death lawsuits as well.

Gianna and Kobe Bryant
Gianna and Kobe Bryant | Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

What happened?

On January 26th, Kobe and Gianna boarded a helicopter at the John Wayne Airport to head to the Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks, California. Onboard with the Byrants were Gianna’s teammate, Alyssa Altobelli, and her parents Keri and John Altobelli, basketball coach Christina Mauser,  Gianna’s teammate Payton Chester and her mother Sarah, and the pilot Ara Zobayan. The helicopter took off at 9:06 am. Authorities were called to the crash site around 9:50 am.

The Altobelli and Mauser family lawsuits

Now, the Altobelli and Mauser families are seeking retribution for the wrongful deaths of their family members.

Alexis Altobelli, the surviving child of John and Keri, is petitioning for wrongful death and survival damages, funeral and burial expenses, and “all other damages by law,” according to court documents obtained by Entertainment Tonight.

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In the suit, Alexis claims that the helicopter company, Island Express, was “negligent and careless, in regards to owning, leasing, managing, maintaining, controlling, entrusting, chartering, and operating” the helicopter which resulted in the death of her family members.

Mauser left behind her husband and three children.

“My kids and I are devastated. We lost our beautiful wife and mom today in a helicopter crash. Please respect our privacy. Thank you for all the wishes they mean so much,” her husband Matt Mauser wrote on Facebook at the time of her death.

Now, he has filed a wrongful death suit claiming that the “careless, negligent, and unlawful acts and/or omissions” by Island Express were major factors in the accident, according to the outlet.

Both families are seeking a trial by jury.

Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit

Vanessa also filed a wrongful death suit against Island Express over a month ago. In the suit, Vanessa claimed that the pilot “had a duty to use that degree of care that an ordinarily careful and prudent pilot would use under the same or similar circumstances.” She also cited a violation that the pilot had in 2015 that should have alerted the company to his “unfitness” to fly a helicopter.

The lawsuit claims that Zoboyan was negligent and failed to “properly assess the weather, flying into conditions he wasn’t cleared for and failing to control the helicopter.”

Island Express accidents

This isn’t the first time that Island Express has been in hot water. In 1985, one of their helicopters crashed into a Helitrans helicopter. Everyone on Island Express’ helicopter survived, even though some sustained serious injuries. One person on the other copter was killed.

In May of 2008, one of their copters lost engine power and crashed in Catalina, killing three people. Three others were injured in the horrific crash.