Sarah Chester was “the one that everybody counted on.” Her daughter Payton was “the gentlest person you would ever meet.”
La Serna High football coach Andy George described his sister and 13-year-old niece, who were among the nine people from Orange County who died Sunday in the helicopter crash in Calabasas that killed Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
George, who just a couple months ago led his team to the CIF Southern Section Division 6 championship game
and was named the Whittier Daily News coach of the year
, discussed the heartbreak his family experienced.
George is two years older than his sister Sarah, who was 45. Sarah Chester is survived by her husband Chris and her two boys Hayden and Riley, both 16, who go to St. Margaret’s Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano. She is also survived by her mother Cathy George, and another brother, also named Chris.
Head coach Andy George of La Serna against Pacifica in the first half of a CIFSS Division 6 championship football game at California High School on Saturday, November 30, 2019 in Whittier, California. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)
Whittier Daily News coach of the Year: Andy George, La Serna at the SGV Tribune on Wednesday, December 18, 2019 in Monrovia, California. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)
“We’re just sad, I mean, we’re heartbroken,” Andy George said Monday. “It’s starting to settle in a little bit, but I’m still in disbelief. We were always trying to be there for each other and we were really close.
“She’s the one that everybody counted on. She was there for everyone. She was everything to her family, to our family. Anytime I needed anything, she was the person I went to.”
George said his sister Sarah attended La Serna High School and was a standout soccer player on the school team. Her family resided in Orange County.
“I’m going to miss her so much, I already do,” George continued. “She’s strong, kind, intelligent, funny, beautiful, and was everything to us.”
George said his niece Payton loved basketball and said she had played with Bryant’s Mamba team for some time. He said his sister and her family got to know the Bryant family well.
“She was on the Mamba team for years, she loved it,” George said of Payton. “It was obviously a big part of her life. He (Bryant) was always there for them.
(Payton) wanted to play in high school and college.
“It’s just so hard to believe they’re gone.”
George started choking up even more talking about his niece.
“She had this sweetest soul, the kindest most gentlest person you would ever meet,” George said of Payton. “She always had a huge smile on her face. Every time we would see her she would spend all her time with my little daughters.
“She enjoyed every minute of being there for them and in basketball, she worked so hard at it. She was good, she had a big figure ahead for her. It’s just so devastating.”
Payton attended Harbor View Elementary through fifth grade before moving on to St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, where she was in eighth grade.
The principal at Harbor View Elementary, Todd Schmidt, took to Facebook to express his feelings about the two.
“As folks mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant, I want to take a moment to remember two gorgeous human beings who were with him, Sarah and Payton Chester,” he wrote. “As a principal, we work with some amazing families, the Chesters were one of those, engaged, supportive, encouraging, and full of mischief and laughter and they had the best kiddos!
“This family made such a huge impact at Harbor View. They were genuine, kind-hearted, and caring to the staff, to other families and yes, especially to me.
“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.
“You were both the embodiment of #hvepride, and the world is just a little less without you both in it. May you both Rest In Peace and know the deep impact you had on our lives. You will be so sorely missed.”
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