Kobe Byrant’s 13-year-old has been reportedly blamed for her own death — because the child should have known flying in a helicopter was dangerous.
The aircraft’s operator made the allegation in response to Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit against them, TMZ reported.
The legal action comes after LA Lakers star — an 18-time NBA All-Stars champion — died in the devastating crash in Calabasas, California, on January 26.
The chopper had been reportedly flying at about 184 miles-per-hour in “blinding fog” when it plunged more than 1,000 feet in about a minute, crash-landing into a fireball on a mountainside.
Vanessa hit the aircraft’s owner, Island Express, with the 72-page lawsuit on the day of his memorial, a month after the deadly crash.
The firm and the pilot, Defendant Zobayan, were described as “wanton, willful, callous, reckless and depraved” in the court document.
But TMZ reports that Island Express helicopters claim Venessa has no case against them — in part because the foggy weather conditions were an “act of god”.
But the company also claims Kobe and 13-year-old Gigi should have known helicopter flying was dangerous.
In its response to the lawsuit allegations, the company states: “Kobe Bryant and GB [Gigi] had actual knowledge of all of the circumstances, particular dangers, and an appreciation of the risks involved and the magnitude thereof, and proceeded to encounter a known risk, and voluntarily assumed the risk of the accident, injury.
It adds: “thereby barring or reducing [Vanessa’s] claim for damages.”
FIRM ALSO SUED FOR ‘PAIN AND PRE-IMPACT TERROR’
It does not explain, however, how a 13-year-old can be expected to know the risks of helicopter flying.
Vanessa is also suing for “pain”, “pre-impact terror” and other damages which may have been suffered by Kobe and Gianna before they plunged to their deaths in the doomed helicopter.
It alleges the pilot had failed to get weather data, he didn’t stop the flight even when he learned of the cloudy conditions, and he failed to avoid “natural obstacles” in the flight path of the chopper.
The court documents also state that Zobayan was disciplined five years ago for violating the visual flight rule minimums when he flew into airspace with bad visibility.
It reads: “Pilot Ara George Zobayan had a duty … of care that an ordinarily careful and prudent pilot would use under the same or similar circumstances.
“Defendant Island Express Helicopters is vicariously liable for any and all actions of Ara George Zobayan, including his negligent and careless piloting and operations of the subject helicopter.”
It added that the company “knew or should have known” that Zobayan had been previously cited by the FAA for violating the visual flight rules by flying “into an airspace of reduced visibility”.They also accuse the helicopter operators Island Express of disregarding the safety of others by using him despite “advance knowledge” of his “unfitness”.
“Island Express Helicopters employed Defendant Zobayan with conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others and authorized or ratified his wrongful conduct, and itself engaged in conduct with malice, oppression or fraud,” they claim.
But a relative of the dead pilot responded to Vanessa lawsuit by also claiming the passengers should have known they were taking a risk by flying.
As well a Kobe and Gigi, Gianna, and Zobayan all died alongside Sarah Chester and her teenage daughter, Payton.
Orange Coast College basketball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri, and their teenage daughter Alyssa, were also killed.
The crash was ruled an accident, according to the coroner’s office.
The Sun Online has contacted Island Express for a comment.