Vanessa Bryant Reveals Helicopter Company Involved in Kobe Bryant Crash Receives $600K in CARES Act Funding

Vanessa Bryant is not happy with this news. The widow of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant revealed Island Express Helicopters, the company that operated the helicopter that crashed and killed Kobe, their daughter Gianna and seven others, just received $603,838 in CARES Act funding. According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, the CARES Act "provides for payments to State, Local, and Tribal governments navigating the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak."

Vanessa posted the news on her Instagram page posted broke heart emojis to indicate how upset she was with the decision. She is suing the company along with the pilot and the helicopter owner for negligence. Bryant filed the lawsuit in February, arguing the helicopter should have never been in the air due to the weather conditions. In response to the lawsuit, a representative for the pilot, Ara Zobayan, claimed the passengers should be held responsible.

"Any injuries or damages to plaintiffs and/or their decedent were directly caused in full or in part by the negligence or fault of plaintiffs and/or their decedent, including their knowing and voluntary encounter with the risks involved, and that this negligence was a substantial factor in causing their purported damages, for which this answering defendant bears no responsibility," the pilot's rep said per TMZ.

As for Island Express Helicopters, it said Kobe and Gianna "had actual knowledge of all of the circumstances, particular dangers, and an appreciation of the risks involved and the magnitude thereof" of flying in the helicopter, according to a statement obtained by PEOPLE back in May. The attorneys for the company also added Kobe and Gianna "voluntarily assume the risk of the accident, injury, and damages."

This week, the National Transportation Safety Board released a report on the crash, and investigators believe Zobayan was disoriented at the time of the crash. When Zobayan contacted air traffic control before the crash, he said he was climbing up to 4,000 feet, but the helicopter was actually falling towards the ground which led to it hitting a mountain.


Along with the lawsuit, Vanessa Bryant is urging Congress to pass the "Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act," which would require helicopters that require six or more people be equipped with necessary tools in order to prevent more crashes. She said in a statement: I believe there is a chance that Kobe and Gianna would still be alive today if their helicopter had been equipped with the safety equipment required by this pending federal legislation."