Remembering Victims of the Helicopter Crash


Courtesy to 5 News

The devastating helicopter crash on January 26 took the lives of the nine victims who are pictured.

Tiana Salisbury, Photojournalist

On Sunday, January 26, Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven other people boarded a Sikorsky S-76B helicopter and departed the John Wayne Airport in Orange County. The New York Times states that the passengers were on their way to a basketball tournament at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in Newbury Park. That morning was foggy and visibility was very poor, which led the helicopter to crash into a hill in Calabasas. Unfortunately, none of the passengers survived. 


Of the nine victims of the crash, the most recognized are Kobe and Gianna Bryant. The seven other victims might not be as well-known, but their stories still deserve to be shared.


Fourteen-year-old Alyssa Altobelli was one of Gianna’s basketball teammates who was on the helicopter with her. Todd Harrell, Alyssa’s basketball coach from Ensign Intermediate School, states that Alyssa was a key player on her team. Alyssa’s parents John and Keri Altobetti were also aboard the helicopter to the basketball tournament. According to the Los Angeles Times, John Altobetti was a baseball coach at Orange Coast College and was named one of the American Baseball Coaches Association coaches of the year last year.


Two other victims of the crash were Sarah Chester and her thirteen-year-old daughter Payton Chester. According to the Los Angeles Times, Sarah Chester is remembered to be very dedicated to her family, and even left her job as a teacher to spend more time with her husband and kids. In addition to Payton, she has two twin sons, Hayden and Riley. Payton is another one of Gianna’s teammates. Her family members recall her to have a “smile and personality that would light any room” (Los Angeles Times). 


Christina Mauser coached the girl’s basketball team at Mamba Sports Academy with Kobe Bryant. According to CBS News, Mauser was also a mother to three children. Her husband, Matt Mauser, is still conflicted over how to raise his children without his wife. 


Ara Zobayan was the pilot of the helicopter flight. The Los Angeles Times states that Zobayan was also a flight instructor, and was very dedicated to helping his students. Darren Kemp, one of Zobayan’s students, describes his instructor as someone who always pushed their students to succeed when learning to fly or when dealing with a personal conflict. According to KTLA, Zobayan has over 20 years of flight experience.


Each person whose life was taken by this tragic accident has a lasting impact on the world, whether it be their love for basketball or their dedication to family. Their impact will continue to be remembered by friends, family, and fans. Analise Hopper (9) adds to this and says “regardless of their legacy, each victim should be remembered for all of their accomplishments in their life.”