Kobe Bryant death: All nine victims in California helicopter crash named

Chris Riotta
AP

The victims in the tragic helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, also involved multiple other families, including a beloved baseball coach, his wife and daughter.

John Altobelli, a baseball coach at Orange Coast College who was better known by players and fans as Coach “Alto”, also passed away in the deadly crash, along with his wife, Keri, and their daughter, Alyssa.

His brother, Tony Altobelli, remembered the coach as “one of the biggest-hearted people you’ll meet in your life” in a statement.

“He cared about his players, cared about his school”, the statement continued.

Alyssa, who was teammates with Mr Bryant’s daughter, often flew in the former NBA player’s private helicopter to attend games at the Mamba Academy, where the two girls played.

Angelica Suarez, president of the college, described Mr Altobelli as a “beloved teacher, coach, colleague and friend” in a statement.

Also aboard the helicopter during the crash, which left no survivors, were mother Sarah Chester and her daughter, Payton.

Todd Schmidt the principal at a school previously attended by Payton, confirmed the deaths in a Facebook post.

“While the world mourns the loss of a dynamic athlete and humanitarian, I mourn the loss of two people just as important...their impact was just as meaningful,” he wrote, “their loss will be just as keenly felt, and our hearts are just as broken.”

The crash in Calabasas, California shocked the world on Sunday afternoon as reports indicated flights in the region had been grounded due to fog and other conditions that did not meet minimum standards for flying, according to the Los Angeles police department’s Air Support Division.

The fog “was enough that we were not flying”, Josh Rubenstein, a police spokesperson, told CBS News. It was not immediately confirmed if weather conditions were the cause of the crash.

Ara Zobayan, the pilot of the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter belonging to Mr Bryant, was reportedly “instrument rated”, which meant he was “rated to fly in fog” and clouds.

Christina Pascucci, a reporter with KTLA and licensed pilot, said Mr Zobayan was “very much loved in the aviation community” in a tweet, adding that friends who identified him wrote: “Rest easy as you take your final flight to heaven.”

The ninth victim in the crash, Christina Mauser, was an assistant girls basketball coach who worked at a private school in Orange County, California.

Her death was confirmed by husband Matt Mauser, who said he and his kids were “devastated” in a Facebook post.

“We lost our beautiful wife and mom today in a helicopter crash. Please respect our privacy,” he wrote. “Thank you for all the well wishes they mean so much.”

Read more

Bryant’s life was defined by hard work – his legacy will live forever