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Air traffic controllers blamed for "erroneous acts" in helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and 8 others

New details in Kobe Bryant crash investigation
New details in Kobe Bryant crash investigatio... 02:28

The companies that operated and owned the helicopter in which Kobe Bryant and eight others were killed claim Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers were responsible for the crash in extremely cloudy weather last January.  The lawsuit filed by Island Express Helicopters and Island Express Holding Corp. alleges the two air traffic controllers committed a series of "erroneous acts and/or omissions" that caused the Jan. 26 crash in the foggy hills of Calabasas, CBS Los Angeles reports.

The complaint alleges there were errors by controllers and that the pilot had to respond to multiple requests and commands at a critical time. The FAA said the agency doesn't comment on pending litigation.

The filing was made last week in Los Angeles County Superior Court, where Bryant's widow, Vanessa, has sued the pilot, Island Express and the owner of the craft for negligence. Family members of four other passengers have also sued the companies.

The Sikorsky S-76B crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, west of Los Angeles, while flying to a youth basketball game on Jan. 26. In addition to Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others were killed, including the pilot, Ara Zobayan.

The cross-complaint claims a controller at Southern California Terminal Radar Approach Control facility improperly terminated radar services and led the pilot to believe he was still being surveilled, the Los Angeles Times said.

Another controller compounded the problem by monopolizing the pilot's attention "during the critical phase of the flight by making multiple radio calls, requiring transponder ident, and requesting the Pilot to state where he was and what his intentions were," the cross-complaint said. "The combination of increased stress, workload, and distraction significantly impacted the Pilot's ability to fly the aircraft."

The lawsuit claims Zobayan thought he was receiving radar services at the time of the crash because he said he was going to "climb above the layers and stay with you," CBS Los Angeles reports.

Vanessa Bryant's lawsuit, filed in February, said the pilot shouldn't have flown in those conditions and should have aborted the flight.

Zobayan's brother responded to that lawsuit in a court filing that said Kobe Bryant knew the risks of helicopter flying and his survivors aren't entitled to damages from the pilot's estate.

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