Vanessa Bryant reveals moment she learned Kobe and daughter Gianna had died as she sues cops who took pics of crash site10/24/2021
KOBE Bryant's widow has revealed how she learned about the helicopter crash that killed her husband and daughter last year.
Vanessa Bryant recounted the horrifying day during deposition testimony in the lawsuit she filed against Los Angeles County over its handling of the crash.
Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant died alongside seven others on January 26, 2020, when their helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California.
Vanessa's lawsuit accuses Los Angeles County of invasion of privacy and negligence, claiming sheriff's and fire department employees improperly shared photos from the crash scene.
In her deposition on October 12, Vanessa recalled the moment she learned of the crash when a family assistant knocked on the door of her home about two hours after the crash.
"She told me that there was an accident and that there were five survivors," the heartbroken mother of four testified, according to USA Today.
"I asked her if Gianna and Kobe were okay. And she said she wasn't sure. She didn't know."
Vanessa said she tried calling Kobe and her mother before getting in the car to pick her other daughter Natalia up from ACT class.
"I picked her up and I told her that Daddy and Gigi were in an accident," Vanessa said. "Not to worry. I'm sure they're fine because there's five survivors. And I'm sure Daddy and Gigi are fine. I just felt, I knew that they would be helping people."
She said her assistant continued calling the sheriff's office but couldn't get anyone to confirm whether her loved ones were okay.
Soon after, she said: "All these notifications started popping up on my phone, saying RIP Kobe. RIP Kobe. RIP Kobe."
Vanessa said she tried to get a helicopter to bring her to the crash site but was blocked because weather conditions were "too bad."
Los Angeles Lakers executive Rob Pelinka then drove Vanessa to the sheriff's station in Malibu. She said she "wasn't prepared" for what came next.
"I said: 'What is happening? Where are they?'" she recalled. "'Why is no one telling me what's going on?'
"And then they said: 'Actually, this isn't a good space. Let's take you back to the first room.’ So then they walked us over to this little closet room area where we waited and waited. There was one sheriff present.
"I asked him: 'What is happening? Why is no one telling me what is happening?’ They wouldn't answer."
Vanessa said it wasn't until about four hours after the crash that Sheriff Alex Villaneuva arrived and told her what had happened.
She said she told him: "If you can't bring my husband and baby back, please make sure no one takes photographs of them. Please secure the area.
"And he said: 'I will.' I said: 'No, I need you to get on the phone right now and I need you to make sure that you secure the area.'"
At another point in the deposition, county attorney Skip Miller asked Vanessa about photos of the crash site purportedly showing her dead husband.
Miller said he had to show the photos to establish that they did not come from the county.
The county has maintained that the photos its employees took of the crash site were not released publicly or posted online. However, the county has admitted that a trainee deputy showed a photo to a bartender.
Asked by Miller how she suffered emotional distress from the trainee's actions, Vanessa noted that she held onto the clothing Kobe and Gianna were wearing at the time of the crash.
"They suffered a lot. And if their clothes represent the condition of their bodies, I cannot imagine how someone could be so callous and have no regard for them or our friends, and just share the images as if they were animals on a street."
The deposition emerged days after lawyers for the county moved to have Vanessa undergo mental evaluation to prove her claim that she suffered severe mental anguish due to the circulation of crash photos.
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