Smoke from helicopter crash
Smoke from the helicopter crash north of Malibu. Courtesy Los Angeles Sheriff

A federal jury Wednesday ordered Los Angeles County to pay $31 million in damages over the actions of first-responders who snapped and shared gruesome photos from the scene of the 2020 helicopter crash that killed Laker legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven other people.

The damages were awarded to Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, and co-plaintiff Chris Chester, whose wife Sarah and 13-year-old daughter Payton also died in the Jan. 26, 2020, crash on a Calabasas hillside. The jury awarded Bryant $16 million and Chester $15 million.

Jurors in downtown Los Angeles reached their verdict after roughly four and a half hours of deliberations.

Along with Chester and Bryant’s loved ones, the crash killed Alyssa Altobelli, 14; Keri Altobelli, 46; John Altobelli, 56; Christina Mauser, 38; and pilot Ara Zobayan, 50.

Two families separately settled with the county over the photos for $1.25 million each. All of the victims’ families reached a settlement with the helicopter company for the crash, but those terms remain confidential.

Updated at 4:43 p.m. Aug. 24, 2022

City News Service contributed to this article.



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Ellen Bullock