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Kobe Bryant chopper crash victim families win $2.5 million over photos

Published Nov 03, 2021 10:50 am

Relatives of people who perished in the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant will receive $2.5 million in compensation over graphic photos of the accident that were snapped surreptitiously by sheriff's deputies and firefighters.

The settlement, agreed Tuesday by Los Angeles County, does not apply to the widow of the NBA legend, who is also suing over those unauthorized pictures.

Los Angeles Lakers star Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others died in the crash in hills near Los Angeles in January 2020.

The only people authorized to take pictures of the scene were investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and the coroner's office.

But it emerged that deputies and firefighters working for Los Angeles County also took pictures on their phones and shared them with others.

Families of the victims sued the county for emotional trauma.

In this file photo taken on Jan. 26, 2021, Anthony Calderon leaves flowers to pay his respects at a makeshift memorial in Calabasas, California, at the hillside site of a helicopter crash a year ago that killed nine people including Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna.

Matthew Mauser, whose wife Christine died in the accident, will receive $1.25 million. Siblings JJ Altobelli and Alexis Altobelli, whose mother, father and sister were killed, will share another $1.25 million. 

Bryant's widow Vanessa has also sued Los Angeles County, alleging that she and her family suffered emotional distress over the pictures. That lawsuit continues.

An investigation into the crash found the pilot had probably become disorientated after flying the Sikorsky S-76 into clouds.

Bryant is widely recognized as one of the greatest basketball players ever, a figure who became the face of his sport during a glittering two decades with the Lakers.

He was a five-time NBA champion in a career that began in 1996 straight out of high school and lasted until his retirement in 2016. 

He was also a two-time Olympic gold medalist, helping spark the US squad of NBA stars to titles in 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London. (AFP)