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FILE - In this July 26, 2018, file photo, former Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna watch the U.S. national championships swimming meet in Irvine, Calif. Federal safety officials are expected to vote Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, on what likely caused the helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others to crash into a Southern California hillside last year, killing all aboard. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, file)

Pilot Found Responsible for Bryant Helicopter Crash

By Kaleigh Cortez-

CHATTANOOGA, TENN ( – Recent revelations determined the pilot carrying Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, and eight others was responsible for the helicopter crash that killed all passengers on board over a year ago.

The National Transportation Safety Board blamed Ara Zobayan for not following his training on Jan. 26, 2020, by flying into clouds which resulted in the death of the famous basketball player, his daughter, and others heading to a basketball tournament in Ventura County.

By flying into the clouds, Zobayan lost all sight and experienced spatial disorientation, also called “the leans.” This causes pilots to feel as though they are flying straight when they are actually dropping thousands of feet.

The combination of directing the aircraft through the fog and choosing not to use flying instruments is a violation of the visual flight rules, which NTSB member Michael Graham said is a situation where only “a certain percentage aren’t going to come out alive.”

The result of Zobayan’s infractions was a helicopter that dropped 4,000 feet per minute before smashing into a nearby hill and killing everyone inside immediately.

Vanessa Bryant, the wife and mother of two of the victims, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Island Express Helicopters Inc. and Island Express Holding Corp. for not properly training and supervising Zobayan. 

Both the brother of the pilot, Berge Zobayan, and Island Express stated the pilot is not responsible for the crash. Island Express said the crash was an “act of God.”

This tragic situation did spark a possibility for positive change. Lawmakers have introduced the Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act to require warning systems on helicopters with six or more passengers.

About Kaleigh Cortez

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