Tragedy struck Thursday as a single-engine plane carrying Oklahoma State women’s basketball head coach Kurt Budke, recruiting coordinator Miranda Serna, former Oklahoma Sen. Olin Branstetter and his wife Paula crashed in central Arkansas. The Associated Press reports that there were no survivors in the crash.
Branstetter piloted the plane
Federal Aviation Administration records indicate that Olin Branstetter, 82 and a veteran pilot, was piloting the plane for Budke, who was on a recruiting trip. The plane crashed in Perry County, 45 miles west of Little Rock.
According to reports, a woman contacted 911 around 4:30 p.m. local time after the Oklahoma State plane crashed into a ridge within an area of rugged national forest.
“She saw the airplane swirling. It basically nose-dived and crashed,” said Perry County Sheriff’s chief deputy criminal investigator Mike Surrett. “They were ejected. Debris was scattered over about a 300 or 400 yard area.”
Wreckage of the plane containing Kurt Budke and the others was discovered at approximately 6 p.m. local time via police helicopter. The cause of the crash is currently unknown.
Budke had a successful coaching career
Fifty-year-old Budke had coached the Oklahoma State Cowgirls since 2005. Serna had worked as his assistant for seven seasons, including time at Louisiana Tech University.
Budke is credited with turning around the Oklahoma State program in Stillwater, Okla., with a record of 112-83 over his six seasons. In 2009-10, the Cowgirls won 24 games and finished with a top-10 ranking for the first time in school history. Before coming to Stillwater, Kurt Budke went 80-16 at Louisiana Tech.
Oklahoma State University mourns the loss
In the wake of the Oklahoma State plane crash, Saturday and Sunday games on Nov. 18 and 19 were canceled. University President Burns Hargins addressed the incident with the press.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of Kurt Budke, Miranda Serna and the other victims,” said Hargins. “Kurt was an exemplary leader and a man of character who had a profound impact on his student-athletes. He was an outstanding coach and a wonderful person. We send our deepest sympathies to his wife, Shelley, and their children, Sara, Alex and Brett.”
Thursday’s deadly Oklahoma State plane crash is the second for the university in a decade, notes Fox News. In 2001, a plane carrying members of the men’s basketball team crashed in Colorado during a snowstorm as the team was returning home from a game. Ten people, including two players, the Oklahoma State radio play-by-play announcer and several athletic department staff members were killed.
Associated Press coverage of the Oklahoma State plane crash
Fox News: http://fxn.ws/tmqdOU
Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/18/kurt-budke-miranda-serna-_n_1101510.html
Tulsa World: http://bit.ly/t8y6Cg
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