Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash: 9 Victims Named
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Nine people lost their lives in a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday -- including Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna.
The Los Angeles Lakers legend and his 13-year-old daughter were reportedly on their way to the Mamba Academy near Thousand Oaks, California, when the crash occurred.
A 911 call was placed at 9:47 a.m. reporting a helicopter fire and brushfire, with first responders reaching the scene of the crash about eight minutes later. It took an additional hour to extinguish the fires, the L.A. County Sheriff's Office revealed on Sunday, sharing that all eight passengers and the helicopter's pilot, who has been identified as Ara Zobayan, had died.
While the Coroner's Office is still working to recover the remains, more information has been revealed as to the identity of the crash's victims. Alyssa Altobelli, a teammate of Gianna's, was also on the helicopter, along with her parents, Keri and John Altobelli, who was a baseball coach at Orange Coast College.
John and Keri are also parents to daughter Alexis Altobelli and son J.J. Altobelli, who works as a scout for the Boston Red Sox.
"It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of Orange Coast College head baseball coach John Altobelli. He was a coach, a colleague, a mentor and a friend at OCC for 27 years," the school said in a statement on Sunday. "Orange Coast College asks the media and the public to respect the privacy of John’s family and friends during this difficult time."
Also among the victims is Christina Mauser, an assistant coach at Harbor Day School in Corona Del Mar, California. Mauser, who previously worked with Bryant on a clinic for WNBA players at the Mamba Academy, was mourned by her husband in a heartbreaking statement on Facebook.
"My kids and I are devastated. We lost our beautiful wife and mom today in a helicopter crash. Please respect our privacy. Thank you for all the wishes they mean so much," Matt Mauser wrote.
Sarah Chester and her daughter, Payton Chester, also lost their lives in the crash. Todd Schmidt, a principal at Harbor View Elementary School where Payton attended as a child, shared a tribute to the family to Facebook Sunday night.
"As folks mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant, I want to take a moment to remember two gorgeous human beings who were with him, Sarah and Payton Chester..." Schmidt wrote, along with several photos of the pair. "This family made such a huge impact at Harbor View...they were genuine, kind-hearted, and caring...to the staff, to other families...and yes, especially to me."
"You were both the embodiment of #hvepride, and the world is just a little less without you both in it," he added. "May you both Rest In Peace and know the deep impact you had on our lives. You will be so sorely missed."
Traveling by helicopter was not unusual for Bryant, who frequently traveled that way during his time playing for the Lakers. He was known to commute from Newport Beach, California, to downtown L.A.'s Staples Center in his Sikorsky S-76 chopper.
The official cause of the helicopter crash is currently under investigation, the L.A. County Sheriff's Office said.
Bryant is survived by his wife, Vanessa, and their three other children -- Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months. See more in the video below.
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