Seven remaining passengers identified in fatal helicopter crash

Devon Greene, editor-in-chief

The names of the remaining passengers involved in the helicopter crash that killed 41-year-old Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, have been released.

The Altobelli family lost three members on Sunday as 56-year-old John, 46-year old Keri and 13-year-old Alyssa all perished in the crash. John was a baseball coach at Orange Coast College for 27 years, which made him the longest-tenured baseball coach in the history of the program. He led the team to four state community college championships and amassed over 700 wins. The team had their season-opening game yesterday where they honored the coach with an on-field ceremony. Alyssa was a teammate of Gianna and the family had traveled with Kobe and Gianna to games before. The Altobelli family leaves behind 16-year-old Lexi and 29-year-old J.J..

Assistant coach of the Mamba Academy’s girls team, Christina Mauser, was another victim identified in the crash. Mauser was 38 years old and leaves behind a husband and three children; aged 3, 9 and 11. Her husband, Matt, spoke to the “Today” show about his wife on Monday.

“She was extraordinary,” Matt said. “She was incredibly witty, funny, funny like nobody you’ve ever met… She was warm, she was incredibly bright, she was technologically incredibly savvy. She could figure out anything.”

Matt also spoke about his worries for the future with his three children.

“I’ve got three small kids and I’m trying to figure out how to navigate life with three kids and no mom,” Matt said. “I’m scared, I think more than anything. I’m so scared about the future.”

Matt added some words about the Altobelli family and spoke about his, Christina’s and Kobe’s relationships with them.

“They were amazing people in their own right,” Matt said. “I knew them well. They were wonderful and warm. They loved their kids and they were so proud that their kids were growing. They were becoming better basketball players. Kobe took these kids from private schools and made them gritty and tough. He was dedicated and so was my wife. They were dedicated to these girls.”

The pilot of the helicopter was 50-year-old Ara Zobayan. Zobayan was a veteran pilot and flight instructor in the area. He was Kobe’s private pilot and had flown the superstar often.

The last of the victims were Sarah and Payton Chester. They are survived by husband and father, Chris, and sons and brothers, Hayden and Riley. Payton was also a teammate of Gianna and Alyssa. The Chester family released a statement on Monday through Payton’s school.

“Yesterday, we lost our mother and wife, Sarah, and sister and daughter, Payton. We are devastated by this loss,” the statement said. “Sarah and Payton were the lights of our family. Payton had a smile and personality that would light any room, and a passion for the game of basketball. She found joy on any court and loved all of her teammates and coaches. Sarah was full of life and the glue of our family. She was a tireless force in support of her family. The love we feel from so many today is a testament to the community she created for us. Our prayers and condolences go out to the Bryant, Altobelli and Mauser families. We were all so blessed to be a part of Team Mamba, and we will always remember the fun and love that we all shared. We also send our prayers and condolences to the Zobayan family.”

Investigation into the cause of the crash is still underway but more details have come out from the National Safety Transportation Board. According to NTSB board member, Jennifer Homendy, in Zobayan’s final transmission, he told air traffic control that he was climbing to avoid a cloud layer. Air traffic control then asked Zobayan what his plan of action was and received no reply. The last radar contact with the helicopter occurred at around 9:45 a.m.. Homendy also said that the crash broke the helicopter into pieces, leaving debris scattered 500 to 600 feet across the hillside. Visibility was also very low on Sunday morning, leading to many helicopters grounded, including those of the Los Angeles Police Department.