Former Cape League Coach Killed in Helicopter Crash With Kobe Bryant

John Altobelli, who is the father of Red Sox scout JJ Altobelli, coached the Brewster Whitecaps from 2012-2014

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A former Cape Cod Baseball League coach was killed in the helicopter crash that also claimed the life of Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant, his current team announced.

Orange Coast College identified head baseball coach John Altobelli as a victim of the crash Sunday in Southern California and later said his wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa, also died in the crash, Altobelli's family confirmed.

"It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of Orange Coast College head baseball coach John Altobelli," the team shared on Twitter. "He was a coach, a colleague, a mentor and a friend at OCC for 27 years."

Altobelli coached the Brewster Whitecaps from 2012-2014. The Cape team offered its condolences and shared its heartbreak on Twitter, saying, “We are heartbroken and shocked to learn that our former head coach, John Altobelli along with his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa passed away this morning in the helicopter crash that also claimed the lives of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna."

While coaching in the prestigious Cape League, Altobelli managed multiple future Major League Baseball players, including New York Yankees star Aaron Judge and Jeff McNeil of the New York Mets.

Both McNeil and Judge took to Twitter on Sunday to share their reaction to the news.

"Tough to hear the news of coach Altobelli," McNeil said in a tweet. "One of my favorite coaches I have ever played for and one of the main reasons I got a chance to play professional baseball. Both the baseball and basketball world lost a great one today."

Altobelli's son JJ played for Brewster, as well, and is currently a scout for the Boston Red Sox. 

The Cape Cod Baseball League released the following statement on Twitter:

"The entire Cape League family is saddened by the tragic loss of former @WhitecapsCCBL coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa. We send our deepest condolences to the Altobelli family and the countless lives they touched."

In 27 years with OCC, Altobelli led the team to numerous conference and state championship titles, garnering more than 700 wins during his career and four state championships, the college said in a statement.

He was honored in 2019 by the American Baseball Coaches Association as an ABCA/Diamond National Coach of the Year, which OCC officials say is a testament to his incredible work ethic and passion for the game.

“John meant so much to not only Orange Coast College, but to baseball,” says Coast Athletic Director Jason Kehler. “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.” 

The school says “Coach Alto” was a mentor to his players and often played a key role in helping students obtain scholarships to play at the four-year level. 

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

Officials said nine people were on board at the time of the crash, citing the helicopter's manifest, and that there were no survivors.

John and Keri Altobelli are survived by their son JJ and another daughter Alexis.

The victims, who include a pilot and eight passengers, have not yet been officially identified.

An investigation into the crash is ongoing.

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