Yesterday, the news hit everyone like a train. Newport local Kobe Bryant had passed away. Known for being always-approachable, the community had endless stories of run-ins with the famous LA Lakers shooting guard.
But the story got worse from there. Also on-board the helicopter was his daughter Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, age 13.
John Altobelli, 56. who was the head coach of Southern California’s Orange Coast College baseball team; his wife, Keri Altobelli; and their 13 year old daughter, Alyssa Altobelli, who also played on Bryant’s daughter’s basketball team. Another 13yr old basketball player, Payton Chester, and her mother Sarah Chester were killed, as well as Christina Mauser, a girls’ basketball coach at a nearby elementary school– and wife of Tijuana Dogs vocalist Matt Mauser– along with the pilot, 50 year old Ara Zobayan.
This is a tragedy that hits squarely at the hearts of our community, to say the very least.
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash, alongside the FBI, which is standard procedure– but most helicopter pilots in the area that we have spoken with say that weather was the most likely cause of the crash.
Our deepest condolences to the families during this time.