Helicopter Crash Victims John Altobelli, Wife and Daughter Were 'First Family' of Orange Coast College
Baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri Altobelli and their daughter Alyssa Altobelli were known as the “first family” of Orange Coast College before their deaths in a helicopter crash this weekend.
The three were on board the aircraft along with six others, including 41-year-old former NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, when it crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California on Sunday. There were no survivors.
“[They were] the First Family of OCC,” the school’s acting head baseball coach Nate Johnson told the Orange County Register of John, 56, Keri, 46, and Alyssa, 13.
John and Keri are survived by their daughter Alexis Altobelli and son J.J. Altobelli.
“All three of [John’s] kids grew up here,” Johnson told the newspaper.
John had coached at Orange Coast College for 27 years, the school said in a statement announcing the tragedy. Alyssa and Gianna played together at the Mamba Sports Academy.
Their helicopter was headed to a tournament at the academy’s Thousands Oaks location before it went down in foggy conditions on Sunday.
For his nearly three decades at the helm of Orange Coast’s baseball team, John remained steadfastly dedicated to his players, and worked constantly to raise funds for their scholarships, Orange Coast College Foundation Executive Director Douglas Bennett told the Register.
“He was a perfectionist and he demanded a lot of his kids,” he said of John. “But also he really cared about them. He worked to build them up as young men.”
On the day of the crash, John’s brother, Tony Altobelli, described how much his brother meant to the community.
“You want to live my brother did, he was straight and narrow, he worked hard and he earned the respect of everybody who ever knew him and he left a legacy that will go way beyond his time spent in Orange Coast,” he told PEOPLE. “I don’t know how you can not want to live a life like that.”
The OCC baseball team will still play their opening game on Tuesday and will pay tribute to the Altobelli family at the stadium, according to the Register. The school has set up a memorial fund to benefit J.J. and Alexis.
Bryant previously shared that he began using helicopters while he still played for the Los Angeles Lakers as a way to spend more time with his family — and less time stuck in traffic.
The former Los Angeles Lakers player is survived by his wife Vanessa Bryant, 37, and daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, who was born in June 2019.