Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, who was 56 years old and was travelling with 13-year-old daughter Alyssa and wife Keri were among the confirmed deceased in the fatal helicopter crash that claimed the life of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna. The deadly helicopter crash occurred 48 km outside Los Angeles, near Calabasas––one pilot and eight others confirmed dead.
Bryant, along with seven other passengers which included his daughter Gianna and girls' basketball coach Christina Mauser were on the helicopter heading to a basketball game when due to foggy weather and turbulence, the helicopter crashed, killing all onboard on Sunday, January 26, 2020.
Coach perishes along with wife and daughter
Altobelli may not have had the public profile of Bryant, nonetheless, he was considered a legend and a true 'baseballer' in the circle of professional sports. The coach was experiencing a career-high as he was entering his 28th season as Orange College's coach and getting selected as the American Baseball Coaches Association's national coach of the year after a season in which he coached the Pirates to a state championship.
Altobelli had reached the zenith of his career after coaching the likes of New York Yankees star Aaron Judge and New York Mets all-star Jeff McNeil. He was considered a baseball lifer as he served as the head coach at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, where he had won more than 700 games and four state titles. The 56-year-old was travelling with wife Keri and 13-year-old daughter Alyssa who played alongside Gianna Bryant on a basketball team.
Girls' basketball coach Christina Mauser confirmed dead
The Altobelli family is survived by two other siblings, son JJ and daughter Alexis. OCC assistant coach Ron La Ruffa was the one to confirm the passing of the Altobellis on Sunday, after which the news reached Altobelli's brother Tony who wandering the Balboa Peninsula when he received the message. It was Tony Altobelli who later confirmed on Twitter the passing of his brother, sister-in-law, and niece along with Bryant and his daughter.
"John meant so much to not only Orange Coast College, but to baseball," said Jason Kehler, the athletics director of the college. "He truly personified what it means to be a baseball coach. The passion that he put into the game, but more importantly his athletes, was second to none--he treated them like family. Our deepest condolences go out to the Altobelli family during this time of tragedy," he concluded, eulogizing his departed colleague.
Christina Mauser, who worked at a private school in Orange County, California was one among the nine that perished in the helicopter crash. "My kids and I are devastated," Christina's 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." he wrote of Facebook, regarding the tragedy.