Longtime baseball coach John Altobelli was killed in a helicopter crash that took the lives of Kobe Bryant and Kobe’s daughter ‘Gigi’. Altobelli’s wife and daughter also died in the crash. (Twitter/@OrangeCoastCollege)

Helicopter crash claims legendary baseball coach who sent players to Victoria HarbourCats

HarbourCats manager had met John Altobelli, 56, during recruitment trip in California

The helicopter crash that killed sports icon Kobe Bryant and his daughter has connections to Victoria’s collegiate baseball team.

Longtime American college baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, and daughter were among those who died in the crash that took nine lives Sunday. Altobelli had relations with the Victoria Harbourcats, sending three memorable pitchers to the team while working at Orange Coast College in California.

Harbourcats General Manager Jim Swanson met Altobelli in 2014 on a recruiting trip in southern California.

ALSO READ: Kobe Bryant’s helicopter flew in fog that grounded other helicopters

“He was a living legend in college coaching circles not even two days ago, and now he’s no longer with us,” said Swanson. “I can’t imagine what it must be like to lose three members in your family. There’s a void in the program now, but I know that the work he’s done will cement the best ideals and culture around college baseball.”

Altobelli was named national coach of the year by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) in 2019. The three pitchers that Altobelli sent to the HarbourCats back in the 2015-2016 season have gone onto their separate careers.

Former HarbourCats Colin Ashworth now plays for the Rainbow Warriors at the University of Hawaii, Josh Butler is at Butler University in Indiana and Casey Costello went to Chico State University in northern California.

READ MORE: ‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Swanson said those three pitchers are only the tip of the iceberg for what the 56-year-old coach did for many aspiring baseball stars around the country.

While the cause of the crash is unknown, the helicopter carrying Bryant and Altobelli was flying in foggy conditions considered dangerous enough that local police agencies grounded their choppers.

– with files from the Associated Press


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