California college baseball coach, daughter, wife among 9 killed in helicopter crash

CALABASAS, Calif. -- The longtime head baseball coach at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa was among those killed in the Calabasas helicopter crash that also claimed Kobe Bryant’s life Sunday, Jan. 26, school officials told KTLA. 

John Altobelli, 56, was aboard the aircraft with his daughter, Alyssa Altobelli, and wife, Keri Altobelli, the coach’s brother Tony Altobelli told CNN.

Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant was also among the nine who died.

Gianna and Alyssa were teammates at the Mamba Academy and were flying from Orange County to Thousand Oaks to attend a game, OCC assistant coach Ron La Ruffa told CNN.

“It was something John routinely did, flying up with Kobe to attend games with his daughter,” La Ruffa said.

John Altobelli worked at OCC for 27 years, the college said.

“John meant so much to not only Orange Coast College, but to baseball,” Athletic Director Jason Kehler said in a statement. “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."

School officials said the longtime coach — known as “Coach Alto” — had more than 700 wins during his career, including four state championships. Last year, he was named as a Coach of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association.

Altobelli also took his work as a mentor seriously and was often a key factor in student-athletes earning scholarships, OCC said.

“We have lost a member of our OCC family, and our hearts are broken,” said President Angelica Suarez. “Coach Altobelli was a giant on our campus -- a beloved teacher, coach, colleague, and friend. This is a tremendous loss for our campus community.”