Kobe Bryant Photos Trial: Orange County man who lost wife and daughter in helicopter crash describes day of accident

LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Chris Chester took the witness stand at Kobe Bryant’s photo trial on Thursday and told the jury that learning how to take graphic photographs of the remains of his wife and daughter sent him into a second frenzy of grief.

“I was incredulous at first,” Chester said. “It never occurred to me in my wildest imagination” that MPs and firefighters would take and share photos of his wife Sarah and their 13-year-old daughter Payton.

“It was grief upon grief,” Chester explained. A different kind of grief – the “empty sadness” at her death now had “a sense of anger”.

“I want justice and accountability,” Chester told the jury.

Sarah and Payton Chester were among the nine people killed in the same helicopter crash that killed the NBA star and his daughter Gianna in 2020.

Chester and Vanessa Bryant are suing the county in federal court for unspecified millions of dollars for negligence and invasion of privacy over photos of human remains taken at the scene and shared by first responders.

Vanessa Bryant is scheduled to comment on Friday.

RELATED: Man Details Night LASD deputy shared Kobe Bryant crash scene photos at Norwalk Bar

Bryant and Chester say they are in mental anguish at the thought of these photos becoming public someday in the future.

“I want justice and accountability,” Chester told the jury.

Chester, a financial adviser in Orange County, recounted the accident this morning: He and Sarah shared the family’s driving responsibilities.

The father took her twins to a lacrosse game in Irvine.

Sarah took Payton to the Mamba Sports Academy basketball game in Thousand Oaks.

“She was a pretty accomplished little basketball player,” Chester said of Payton. “She loved it.”

Payton played on two basketball teams – one for the school and the club team coached by Kobe Bryant. Payton had two games this weekend and wouldn’t make it to both, but Kobe offered to make sure she could come to both games, saying “I’ll get you back.”

So they ended up in the helicopter this Sunday morning.

Chester got a text from Sarah’s brother while he was at their sons’ lacrosse game. Sarah’s brother had heard a helicopter went down – and there were reports it could be Kobe.

“I called Kobe’s assistant and she said, ‘We lost communication with you somewhere between Orange County and Calabasas,'” Chester told the judges.

A friend drove Chester to the Lost Hills station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after telling his twins that “something bad happened, but I think everything will be fine.”

“I was hoping I would go to the hospital,” Chester said. “But when they got to Calabasas, he could see smoke on the hillside. He used Find My iPhone and found that his wife and daughter were “still on that mountain.”

There was mounting media frenzy as the morning progressed as it became clear there were no survivors. Chester told the LA County Sheriff, Villanueva, that “this place needs to be locked down.”

Helicopters circled and Kobe Bryant fans tried to climb the slope to the wreck. Chester said Villanueva assured him he would take care of it.

In the coming days, Chester learned from the coroner that the condition of his wife’s and daughter’s bodies “was not something to look at.”

At her funeral, Chester told jurors he made a promise to Sarah: “You take care of Payton and I take care of the boys. I will see you again one day.”

Chester’s grief was overwhelming on Thursday, but he decided to get his remaining family back on track, saying: “The boys had a lot of life ahead of them.”

He said he expected the photos to surface at any time and warned his boys not to google anything about the crash.

“I’m scared all the time, every day,” Chester told jurors. “Nothing dies on the internet.”

Chester testified that after the trial, he realizes no one knows how many photos were taken and where they might be now. The fact that none of the photos have appeared in the two and a half years since the crash does not comfort him.

Chester was referring to the “mysterious fire captain” the Dep. Doug Johnson admits he dumped his grisly photos at the crime scene.

To this day, no one knows who that might have been.

Then there’s now-retired LA County Fire Captain Brian Jordan, who admitted to taking illustrative photos on the day of the crash. Jordan eventually turned his work laptop over to investigators, but the hard drive was missing.

During Thursday’s cross-examination, Chester was asked about his emotional distress by LA District Attorney Jason Tokoro.

Was it from the photos? Or was it her death in the violent helicopter crash?

“You’ve never been diagnosed with depression or PTSD?” Tokoro asked. Chester replied that he hadn’t seen a doctor in years. He tried grief counseling after her death, but it didn’t work.

“You’re only suing for emotional distress, right?” asked Tokoro.

“Yes,” Chester replied.

“So at the end of the day, it’s a dollar number,” Tokoro said.

Chester replied that it was up to the jury. “My life will never be the same again.”

Tokoro then asked Chester about things he now enjoys in life and asked him about hiking, surfing, fishing and yoga.

“Just because I put a smile on guys’ faces while I’m making them lunch doesn’t mean I don’t have my dark moments alone,” he said.

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.

The defense is expected to begin presenting her case Friday after Vanessa Bryant testified.

Do you have a tip? Email ABC7 Investigative Producer Lisa.Bartley@abc.com

City News Service, Inc. contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.

https://abc7.com/kobe-bryant-photos-trial-chris-chester-testimony-vanessa-lawsuit-sheriffs-department/12140124/ Kobe Bryant Photos Trial: Orange County man who lost wife and daughter in helicopter crash describes day of accident

Laura Coffey

World Time Todays is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – admin@worldtimetodays.com. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button