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Public memorial service for helicopter crash victims set for Angel Stadium

Kobe Bryant, John Altobelli
Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli in an undated photo.
(Orange Coast College)

A public memorial service is scheduled Monday at Angel Stadium in Anaheim for three members of the Altobelli family, who were among nine people killed in a Jan. 26 helicopter crash in Calabasas that also took the life of former Laker Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.

Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, 56, his wife, Keri, 46, and their daughter Alyssa, 14, will be honored at the 4 p.m. service. Doors open at 3 p.m. Admission and parking are free.

John Altobelli was the longest-tenured baseball coach in Orange Coast College history. He guided the Pirates to four California state community college championships and more than 700 victories in his 27 years at the school. Alyssa played on the same club team as Gianna Bryant, which was coached by Kobe Bryant.

All were headed to a tournament at Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks when their helicopter crashed into a hillside in dense fog. The exact cause of the crash remains under investigation.

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John, middle, Keri, top right, and daughter Alyssa Altobelli, bottom left, were three of the nine victims who died in the helicopter crash. They leave behind their son J.J. and daughter Alexis.
(Orange Coast College)
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The Altobellis are survived by two other children: J.J. Altobelli, 29, a scout for the Boston Red Sox, and his sister Alexis Altobelli, 16, a high school junior in Newport Beach. The Orange Coast College Foundation has set up a memorial fund to cover their educational and living expenses.

The Los Angeles Angels have also announced that the team will honor the family’s memory by wearing Orange Coast College hats for the opening split squad games of Cactus League play Feb. 22.

On Saturday afternoon, more than 2,000 people attended a private memorial honoring two other victims of the crash, Sarah Chester, 45, and her daughter Payton, 13. The service was held at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano, where Payton was a student.

“We will miss them and think of them often as we now begin the arduous process of trying to live our lives without Sarah and Payton,” Chris Chester, Sarah’s husband and Payton’s father, said in a statement.

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More than 2,000 people attended a private memorial service for Sarah and Payton Chester on Saturday.
(Chester family)

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Payton was a teammate of Gianna Bryant and Alyssa Altobelli on the Mamba Sports Academy girls’ club basketball team.

“She loved her Team Mamba girls more than anything in the world and considered them her second family,” Chris Chester said. “She was determined to play basketball in college and the WNBA. I have no doubt she would have achieved all her goals and dreams.”

“I am heartbroken for her brothers, my family, and her friends. But I am also heartbroken for the rest of the world, because we lost someone who was going to do great things and make the world a better place.”

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A vendor sells flowers to Kobe Bryant fans in front of a giant electronic billboard featuring the former NBA star near Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles on Jan. 30.
(Associated Press)

A public memorial for Kobe and Gianna Bryant is set for 10 a.m. Feb. 24 at Staples Center.

Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, has said on Instagram that the date of 2-24 has symbolic significance because Gianna wore No. 2 and her father wore No. 24 as basketball players, and that the 20 denoting the current year represented the number of years he played for the Lakers.

The service will follow weeks of impromptu vigils and memorials honoring the basketball great that have popped up around the Los Angeles area, including outside Staples Center and near the helicopter crash site in Calabasas.


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