Three family members killed in Kobe Bryant helicopter crash will have stadium memorial

by Editorial Team

Beloved baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa will be memorialized at Angel Stadium in Anaheim next week after their Jan. 26 deaths in the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash.

“Ok everyone …. we have official word. Memorial service for John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli will take place on Monday, Feb. 10 at 4 p.m. at Anaheim Stadium,” John’s brother Tony Altobelli said in a Facebook post.

“Needless to say … there will be plenty of room so if you’d like to be a part of this, we’d love to have you!” he wrote.

The remains of the three Altobelli family members were the last to be released by county coroner officials Monday among the nine who perished aboard the ill-fated flight.

John Altobelli, 56, was a longtime coach at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa.

He led the OCC Pirates to four state community college championships over his 27-year tenure and was named the national coach of the year by the American Baseball Coaches Association in 2019.

His wife Keri, 46, was a dedicated mom and animal lover, and together with their three kids they were considered the “First Family of OCC,” coaching colleague Nate Johnson told the Orange County Register.

Their daughter Alyssa, 13, was a teammate with Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna on an elite club basketball team at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy.

They were on their way to a game in Thousand Oaks, Calif., the morning of the crash.

John Altobelli also coached the Brewster Whitecaps, a Cape Cod collegiate team that turned out MLB players Jeff McNeil and Aaron Judge.

“One of my favorite coaches I have ever played for and one of the main reasons I got a chance to play professional baseball,” McNeil, a utility player for the Mets, tweeted.

John’s son from a previous relationship and the couple’s 16-year-old daughter Alexis were not on the flight.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Emergency 911 calls released Monday confirm the helicopter was flying in thick clouds before it smashed into a hilltop in Calabasas, Calif., and burst into flames.

“I just heard a helicopter go over me approximately from Lost Hills Road on a south to easterly sweep. It went over my head. It’s thick in clouds. And then I just, I heard a pop, and it immediately stopped,” one witness on the ground told a dispatcher

“That part of the top of the mountain is obstructed in clouds,” he said.

“It came right over me,” he explained. “I was just thinking to myself, if this guy doesn’t have night vision, I mean, he was completely, he’s completely IFR, instrument flight rules. He’s flying, and he’s got no visual.”

At a press briefing last week, NTSB officials confirmed the chopper was not equipped with a terrain alarm system that might have alerted pilot Ara Zobayan that he was close to contacting the nearby hillside.

NTSB member Jennifer Homendy also said the pilot’s steep descent shortly before impact was at a rate of “over 2,000 feet per minute.”

“So we know this was a high-energy impact crash, and the helicopter was in a descending left bank,” Homendy said.

“This is a pretty steep descent at high speed, so it wouldn’t be a normal landing speed,” she said.


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