Young athletes, a baseball coach and mothers. What we know about the others in the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant

Nine people died in the helicopter crash that killed b...

Posted: Jan 27, 2020 9:33 AM
Updated: Jan 27, 2020 9:00 PM

Nine people died in the helicopter crash that killed basketball legend Kobe Bryant -- including his daughter, Gianna, and her basketball teammate.

The group was flying to Thousand Oaks, California, Sunday for a basketball game, where Gianna was expected to play and Bryant was expected to coach.

While police have not released the names of the people on board, family members of some victims have confirmed their loved ones' deaths. Here's what we know:

A baseball coach, his wife and daughter

Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa, were aboard the helicopter, said Altobelli's brother, Tony Altobelli.

Gianna and Alyssa were teammates at the Mamba Academy, OCC assistant coach Ron La Ruffa told CNN, and Altobelli would often fly with his daughter to attend the games.

'There were two sides to John,' Tony Altobelli said. 'People saw him on the baseball field, he's (a) gritty and tough as nails kind of guy, but the other side of him, he was one of the biggest-hearted people you'll meet in your life. He cared about his players, cared about his school.'

Altobelli, 56, leaves behind a son and daughter, according to an OCC Pirate Athletics news release.

'It's hard to put into words what this loss means to the college and the athletics department,' OCC Athletics Director Jason Kehler said in a statement. 'John was a tremendous coach and an even better friend. Beyond that, he was an amazing mentor to all of the students and athletes that he taught and coached. He treated them all like family and his impact will live on forever.'

Coach 'Alto,' as he was known, was gearing up for his 28th season with the Pirates, which he helped lead to the state baseball championship last year, the release said.

Throughout his career, he stacked more than 700 wins and in 2019 was named by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as the ABCA/Diamond National Coach of the Year, OCC said in a statement.

He was a 'giant' on the campus, OCC President Angelica Suarez said, and a 'beloved teacher, coach, colleague and friend.'

In a statement, the Boston Red Sox said the organization is mourning the death of the three members of the Altobelli family. It said John Altobelli's son, J.J. Altobelli, is a Red Sox scout.

The Red Sox and its Foundation will provide financial and emotional support to the family and a GoFundMe page has been set up to give additional assistance, Chaim Bloom, a Red Sox official said in a statement.

A coach and mother also was killed

Christina Mauser, an assistant girls basketball coach at a K-8 private school in Orange County, also died in the crash.

'My kids and I are devastated,' her husband, Matt Mauser, wrote on Facebook. 'We lost our beautiful wife and mom today in a helicopter crash. Please respect our privacy. Thank you for all the well wishes they mean so much.'

The mayor of Costa Mesa -- about 40 miles from Los Angeles --- also tweeted about Mauser.

'This devastating tragedy gets worse by the hour,' Mayor Katrina Foley wrote on Twitter. 'So much pain for so many local families. Our hearts are broken & grieving for the families impacted.'

US Rep. Harley E. Rouda of California called the loss of life 'incalculable.'

'Today our neighbors lost parents, children, friends, coaches and heroes,' he said. 'Orange County is grieving, but we will find solace and purpose in the example they left behind.'

A mother-daughter duo

Sarah Chester and her daughter, Payton, were also passengers aboard the helicopter, according to a Facebook post by Todd Schmidt, a former principal at Harbor View Elementary School, which Payton once attended.

'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, their loss will be just as keenly felt, and our hearts are just as broken,' Schmidt wrote.

Pilot killed in crash

The helicopter's pilot was Ara Zobayan, according to a former colleague and a neighbor.

Pilot Kurt Deetz, who worked at the Island Express helicopter company with Zobayan, said he considered Zobayan a friend and a trustworthy pilot.

Zobayan's neighbor Robert Sapia said Zobayan loved his job and would show him photos of celebrity passengers, including Bryant.

According to the FAA's pilot certification database, Zobayan is an instrument-certified pilot who earned his commercial pilot's license in 2007. He is also a certified flight instructor for instrument instruction for helicopter pilots, the records show.

The database also shows Zobayan was up to date on FAA-required annual medical exams.

Kobe's daughter followed in his footsteps

The California private school that Bryant's daughter -- Gigi, as he called her -- attended said its 'community is devastated' about her death, and the death of Mauser, the school's former girl's basketball coach.

'She was always smiling. She looked out for the underdog and never left anyone out,' Harbor Day School said in a statement about Gianna.

The school said Gianna 'has left an indelible mark on the school and the people that she's touched.'

Bryant, 41, and Gianna, 13, shared the same passion for the game and she wanted to play in the WNBA as the heir to his legacy.

Recently, a video of the two of them sitting on the sidelines went viral as he seemed to break down the game for his daughter.

The NBA icon leaves behind three daughters, Natalia, Bianka and Capri, who was born in June, and his wife, Vanessa.

Bryant joined the NBA right out of high school, becoming the league's youngest player in history, and spent the next 20 seasons of his professional career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

He held the position of the third-highest scorer in NBA history until he was surpassed by LeBron James Saturday night.

'Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother,' Bryant wrote on Twitter afterward.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Todd Schmidt no longer works at Harbor View Elementary School.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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