The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner has released the autopsy reports for Kobe Bryant and the eight other people who perished in a January 26 helicopter crash.
Along with Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, the victims included Payton Chester, 13, and her mother Sarah Chester, 46; John Altobelli, 56, Keri Altobelli, 46, and Alyssa Altobelli, 14; Christina Mauser, 38; and the helicopter’s pilot, Ara Zobayan, 50.
The coroner’s office wrote, “On Jan. 28, the cause of death for all nine victims was ruled as blunt trauma. The manner of death was certified as an accident.”
According to Zobayan’s autopsy report, obtained by TMZ, the pilot tested negative for drugs and alcohol. The papers said, “Toxicological testing did not detect the presence of alcohol or drugs of abuse. Substances tested for include: benzodiazepines, cocaine, fentanyl, heroin, marijuana, opioids, phencyclidine, and amphetamines.”
ESPN reports that methylphenidate, which is sold under the brand name Ritalin, was found in Bryant's system. The drug is prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy.
The release of the autopsy findings comes just a few days after a representative for Zobayan responded to Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit against the helicopter company.
In a statement, the rep told TMZ, “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.”
Vanessa’s lawsuit claims the pilot, Ara George Zobayan, made a series of errors, including failing to properly assess the weather and abort the flight due to foggy conditions. The suit also alleges that he failed to maintain control of the helicopter and to avoid “natural obstacles.”
The docs allege that in the last seconds of the flight, Zobayan “attempted to maneuver the helicopter up and forward to clear the clouds, then entered a turn, sending the helicopter into the steep terrain at approximately 180 miles per hour.”
The grievance also states that the pilot “was required to fly only in conditions that he could navigate visually” and that Island Express’ “operating certificate limited its pilots to flying only under visual flight rules.” In addition, the suit claims Kobe Bryant “was killed as a direct result of the negligent conduct of Zobayan, for which Defendant Island Express Helicopters is vicariously liable in all respects.”
In response to Vanessa’s legal action, Island Express told TMZ, “Kobe Bryant and GB [Gigi] had actual knowledge of all of the circumstances, particular dangers, and an appreciation of the risks involved and the magnitude thereof, and proceeded to encounter a known risk, and voluntarily assumed the risk of the accident, injury... thereby barring or reducing [Vanessa's] claim for damages."