NTSB: Pilot Ara Zobayan May Have Been Disoriented by Fog in Kobe Bryant Crash

FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2020, file photo, the jerseys of late Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant, right, and his daughter Gianna are draped on the seats the two last sat on at Staples Center, prior to the Lakers' NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers in Los Angeles. A person with knowledge of the details says a public memorial service for Bryant, his daughter and seven others killed in a helicopter crash is planned for Feb. 24 at Staples Center. The Los Angeles arena is where Bryant starred for the Lakers for most of his two-decade career. The date corresponds with the jersey numbers he and 13-year-old daughter Gianna wore, 24 for him and 2 for her. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo, File)

Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

A Wednesday report from the National Transportation Safety Board indicated Ara Zobayan may have been disoriented by low visibility in thick fog on Jan. 26 while piloting a helicopter that crashed, killing Kobe Bryant, the pilot, Bryant’s daughter Gianna and six others. 

The Associated Press (h/t ESPN) shared the news, noting the report from the NTSB revealed Zobayan said he was climbing while he was actually descending.

The report did not offer a final conclusion about what caused the crash but did say Zobayan may have “misperceived” the angles while descending because of the low visibility.

It also said Zobayan texted a group of people approximately 45 minutes prior to takeoff and said the weather looked “OK.”

In May, TMZ reported Island Express—the company that owned the helicopter—filed an answer to Vanessa Bryant’s wrongful death lawsuit and argued Kobe, Gianna and the other passengers “voluntarily assumed the risk of the accident” when they were on board.

In February, Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times reported Vanessa filed a suit to the Los Angeles County Superior Court that named Island Express and Zobayan’s estate as defendants. The lawsuit said Zobayan did not “use ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft.”

The lawsuit also argued “the company is vicariously liable in all respects” and “authorized, directed and/or permitted a flight with full knowledge that the subject helicopter was flying into unsafe weather conditions.”

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