A private memorial honoring helicopter crash victims Sarah and Payton Chester was held Saturday at a San Juan Capistrano school, according to family members.
More than 2,000 people attended the event at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, according to a statement from Chris Chester, whose 45-year-old wife and 13-year-old daughter were killed in the same helicopter crash that killed nine, including Kobe Bryant.
Payton led her middle school basketball team and dreamed of playing for the WNBA, according to the statement. She was also a member of the Mamba Sports Academy Team, playing basketball alongside Gianna Bryant, 13, and Alyssa Altobelli, 14, both also victims of the crash.
"Payton was perfect. She saw the best in each person, and it is impossible to describe the impact of her smile, laugh and compassion on the lives of everyone around her," Chris Chester said. "She loved her Team Mamba girls more than anything in the world and considered them her second family...
"I am heartbroken for her brothers, my family, and her friends. But I am also heartbroken for the rest of the world, because we lost someone who was going to do great things and make the world a better place."
Sarah Chester, who was on St. Margaret’s Board of Trustees according to a tweet from the school, was married to Chris Chester for more than 20 years. They have two other children, both boys.
Sarah Chester was also an alumna of Whittier College, where she played volleyball and met Chris, according to a post from the institution’s president on its Facebook page.
"My heart is broken, and the last two weeks have been a level of pain I never thought I could feel. She loved being a mother and raised two young men that are making her prouder every day," Chris stated. "Our years together were cut far too short and I will miss her forever, but the ones that we had were lived 100% full throttle."
Shortly after news of the deadly crash was announced, Kobe Bryant’s wife Vanessa said the Mamba Sports Foundation had set up a fund to support the other families of those killed in the helicopter crash. Both Payton and Sarah Chester are named in the fund.
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"We will miss them and think of them often as we now begin the arduous process of trying to live our lives without Sarah and Payton," Chris Chester said in his statement.