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Helicopter company in Kobe Bryant crash sues air traffic controllers

The company that operated the helicopter in the crash that killed Kobe Bryant claims 2 air traffic controllers made 'a series of erroneous acts and/or omissions.'
Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
Kobe Bryant, right, and Vanessa Laine Bryant attend the 2018 Baby2Baby Gala on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018 in Culver City, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

The company that operated the helicopter that was involved in the crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others, has filed a lawsuit against two air traffic controllers. 

Island Express Helicopters filed a cross-complaint last week that claims the January crash was caused by "a series of erroneous acts and/or omissions" by two air traffic controllers at the Southern California TRACON, according to records obtained by USA TODAY Sports. 

The helicopter company is facing several lawsuits stemming from the deadly crash, including one from Bryant's widow, Vanessa Bryant. In February, Vanessa filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Island Express Helicopters and claimed helicopter pilot Ara Zobayan may have been negligent and that he had a duty to care for the passengers. Her lawsuit stated that Kobe Bryant's death cost their family "hundreds of millions" of dollars. 

The helicopter crashed amid heavy fog on Jan. 26 in California. 

Attorneys for Island Express claim the pilot's "workload and stress level in deteriorating weather conditions were unnecessarily overloaded by… multiple errors,” according to CBS Los Angeles. Zoboyan reportedly requested flight following, or radar assistance, from air traffic control, which the lawsuit claims was wrongfully denied by an air traffic controller. 

The company also alleges the first air traffic controller failed to communicate the helicopter's situation to his replacement during a shift change before the crash, City News Service reported. 

An FAA spokesperson told USA TODAY that it wouldn't comment on the pending litigation. 

Sunday would have been Bryant's 42nd birthday. Monday was considered “Kobe Day” because it was 8/24, the two numbers Bryant wore during his 20-year career.

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