Column: In Remembrance  

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It’s in moments like this that the world seems to stand still, as if we all stand in shock to ask the universe why. It’s understandable that the story of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, or Gigi, Bryant, will be the one dominating the news for the foreseeable future. But they were just two of the lives lost in this awful tragedy which claimed a total of nine lives yesterday. Those seven people, those families now left mourning, deserve our thoughts and our sympathies, too. 

There was the pilot, 50-year-old Ara Zobayan. His friend Jared Joachim posted on Facebook yesterday that he was “a man that always remained cool, calm and collected,” and “truly a great man.” Zobayan was a flying instructor, who taught people how to fly helicopters. KTLA’s Christina Pasculli posted a tribute to Twitter, calling him “very much loved in the aviation community.”  

Christina Mauser also passed away in the crash. She was an assistant coach for the Mamba Academy basketball team that Gianna played for, and leaves behind a husband and three small children, aged 11, nine and three years old. Her husband Matt Mauser, posted on Facebook yesterday, saying “My kids and I are devastated. We lost our beautiful wife and mom today in a helicopter crash,” adding “Please respect our privacy.” Mauser, who also spoke on “The Today Show” on Monday, held back tears through his interview this morning.  

“I got three small kids and am trying to figure out how to navigate life with three kids and no mom,” he said in an NBC interview.

Then there was the trio of John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli and their daughter, Alyssa Altobelli. John was the head baseball coach at Orange Coast College and the former coach of the Brewster Whitecaps. The Washington Post reported that he led Orange College to over 700 wins in 27 seasons, and players like Aaron Judge and Jeff McNeil went through his summer team on Cape Cod. His wife, Keri Altobelli, was a devoted fan of the team. In a 2007 interview with a sports blog, she said she attended every home game and most of the away games. She was a mother of three; Alyssa and her older siblings, JJ and Alexis.  

Their youngest daughter, Alyssa, was a basketball player who played with Gianna Bryant on the Mamba team. She was the youngest of the family’s three children, and always wanted to play basketball. In an interview with her mother in 2009, when she was three, she said “I want to play soccer and basketball.” 

Sarah Chester and her daughter, Payton, were two more victims of the crash. Payton was in eigth grade and was a basketball player who played on Bryant’s Mamba team. Her uncle, Andy George, said she “had this sweetest soul, the kindest most gentlest person you would ever meet.”

Sarah Chester was a wife, a mother of three and a former soccer player. She’s survived by her two sons, Hayden and Riley, and her husband Chris. She served on the Board of Trustees at her children’s school, St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, where Hayden and Riley are in tenth grade. Payton’s elementary school principal, Todd Schmitt, took to Facebook on Sunday, where he said “we work with some amazing families…the Chesters were one of those…engaged, supportive and full of mischief and laughter.” He’d go on to add an important detail to remember. 

“While the world mourns the loss of a dynamic athlete and humanitarian, I mourn the loss of two people just as important…their impact was just as meaningful, their loss will be just as keenly felt and our hearts are just as broken.” 


Ashton Stansel is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at ashton.stansel@uconn.edu.

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