Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, 41, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter the morning of Sunday, Jan. 26, in Southern California. According to an NBC news report, federal investigators are looking into the cause of this horrific crash that occurred in a remote hillside above Calabasas, California. The chopper went down in flames.
Experts say investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) who are looking into the cause of this helicopter crash will likely focus their investigation on poor and declining flying conditions in the Los Angeles area, the possibility of human error or a potential technical malfunction. Authorities reported dense fog when the helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76B, departed John Wayne Airport in Orange County. It crashed 40 minutes after takeoff. Our deepest condolences go out to all the families who have lost loved ones in this devastating helicopter accident. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
Ongoing Federal Investigation
Bryant was reportedly headed to his Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks for a basketball tournament. Other passengers in the helicopter were a coach, young basketball players and their parents. The morning fog was reportedly so thick that the Los Angeles Police Department decided to ground its choppers until the afternoon. The LAPD requires 2 miles of visibility and an 800-foot cloud ceiling to fly. Experts believe the investigation will zero in on the deteriorating weather conditions.
The helicopter appears to have been operating under “Special Visual Flight Rules,” which is clearance given for aircraft to fly in poor weather conditions, NBC News reports. “Spatial disorientation” which is when a pilot becomes confused and is not sure where the aircraft’s position is in relation to the ground can occur in such cases. Reduced visibility can make the situation worse although the aircraft’s instruments are supposed to assist the pilot in reorienting themselves.
Review of Pilot’s Actions
The chopper carrying Bryant and the others had circled just north of Los Angeles several times. Just before the crash, the pilot began to climb into the clouds and then took a sharp turn before slamming into the ground. The data shows the helicopter descended at a rate of more than 4,000 feet per minute.
NTSB officials said investigators will examine the pilot’s record and perform a toxicology screening, as well as look into any crew that may have been on board and the maintenance records for the aircraft. It might take at least one year for the agency to complete its investigation and make a full report available. It may, however, present some preliminary findings earlier. Bryant routinely flew from his home in Orange County to Los Angeles Lakers games in order to avoid traffic. Bryant’s helicopter had the autopilot option with the ability to fly on instruments with GPS tracking if needed.
Liability Issues in Helicopter Accidents
Often, liability for helicopter accidents may rest with a number of different parties depending on the cause of the accident and the circumstances under which it occurred. For example, if the crash occurred due to operator incompetence or error, the operator and his or her employer may be held liable. If a mechanical malfunction occurred due to inadequate or improper maintenance, the company that owns the helicopter as well as the entity charged with its maintenance (if different) can be held liable.
In some cases, where the helicopter crash was caused by a faulty part, the manufacturer of the helicopter and/or the maker of the defective part can be held accountable. Other parties that may be held liable in such cases include, but are not limited to, air traffic controllers, airfield or helicopter pad owners, maintenance companies, etc. Those who have lost loved ones in a helicopter crash may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault parties for damages including but not limited to lost future income, funeral and burial costs, pain and suffering, etc.
Compensation for Victims
If you or a loved one has been injured in a helicopter accident, or if you have lost a loved one in an aviation accident, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.
For over 48 years, our skilled accident attorneys have established a proven track record of helping injured victims get fair compensation for their losses. Our law firm recently recovered $5,600,000 for a bicyclist who was hit by a van, and $2,550,000 for another victim of a truck accident, and $3,000,000 for a pedestrian who was hit by a car, and the full $1,000,000 insurance policy for a pedestrian who was hit by a truck, and $4,625,000 for a driver who was in a car and was hit by a van, and $2,500,000 for a man who fell through an improperly secured hole. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.
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