Vanessa Bryant has revealed she waited hours for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to confirm her husband, Kobe Bryant, and daughter Gianna died in a January 2020 helicopter crash, even after their deaths were being reported online.
Vanessa described the agonizing wait in a deposition for her lawsuit against L.A. county alleging emotional distress because first responders shared graphic pictures of body parts from the nine people who died in the crash.
During a video teleconference, Vanessa said she learned about the crash from a personal assistant.
“She told me that there was an accident and that there were five survivors,” Vanessa testified, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday. “And I asked her if Gianna and Kobe were OK. And she said she wasn’t sure.”
Vanessa told lawyers she called Kobe’s phone but there was no answer. She started to receive alerts on her phone saying the Los Angeles Lakers legend had died.
“I was trying to call my husband back,” she testified, “and all these notifications started popping up on my phone, saying RIP Kobe. RIP Kobe. RIP Kobe.”
The helicopter plunged into a Calabasas hillside during foggy weather on the morning of Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020.
Vanessa said she rushed to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s Malibu-Lost Hills station near the crash site, but was forced to wait hours for answers.
“I kept asking if my husband and daughter were OK,” she said. “No one would answer me.”
“Then they walked us over to this little closet room area where we waited and waited. There was one sheriff present. And I asked him, ‘What is happening? Why is no one telling me what is happening?’” Vanessa said.
She testified Sheriff Alex Villanueva eventually arrived with a pastor and told her none of the nine people aboard the helicopter had survived.
“And I said, If you can’t bring my husband and baby back, please make sure no one takes photographs of them. Please secure the area,” Vanessa said she responded when Villanueva asked if there was anything he could do to help.
She said the sheriff assured her the crash site was secure. Weeks later, news reports began to surface saying pictures were being passed around of the crash scene and the victims’ remains.
Bryant told the lawyers she wants those responsible held accountable.
“The impact of the helicopter crash was so damaging, I just don’t understand how someone can have no regard for life and compassion, and instead, choose to take that opportunity to photograph lifeless and helpless individuals for their own sick amusement,” she said.