It was terrible to lose one of America’s living legends in a tragic and avoidable helicopter crash over Los Angeles this year.

It now appears like the insurance and legal posturing has begun. Relatives of the pilot claim that the circumstances surrounding the fatal flight were “directly caused” by the passengers’ own behavior and their decision to fly on that day, TMZ originally reported.

Vanessa Bryant, the wife and mother of Kobe and Gianna Bryant respectively, has sued the helicopter company, Island Express, over the accident. The brother of the pilot, however, fired backed and stated the following:

“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.”

For me, as an instrument-rated pilot with over 1,000 flight hours, trained by some of the world’s best fighter pilots, a navy aircrew-man with close to 1,000 hours in H60 helicopters, and thousands of additional hours conducting missions in and out of all sorts of aircraft, this statement couldn’t be farther from the truth.

There is a reason they call it “Pilot in Command.” The entire responsibility ultimately lies with the pilot in charge of the flying aircraft.

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Can air traffic control and hurried passengers add stress to the decision-making process? Yes. But this does not change who makes the final decision.

It took me two minutes to take in the information available from that crash to deduce it was a simple pilot error that resulted from a chain of poor decisions made that took the lives of everyone on board.

It is sad that this was avoidable. It is even sadder that the legal posturing has already begun.

My thoughts and prayers go to the families of everyone who was onboard the helicopter.