This is from MSNBC.com:
BYERS, Colo., Jan. 28 — Two Oklahoma State basketball players and six staffers and broadcasters associated with the team were killed when their plane crashed in a snowstorm Saturday while returning from a game in Colorado. All 10 people aboard died, officials said. The plane, one of three chartered by the school, crashed about 40 miles east of Denver after taking off from Jefferson County Airport.
“THERE’S LUGGAGE and parts of seats and pieces of clothing. Everything that would be on an airplane was scattered and shattered,” police Sgt. Craig Coleman said. “It is very gruesome.”
Wreckage was strewn over about a quarter of a mile across a field. A team of National Transportation Safety Board investigators arrived Sunday.
The school said the 10 killed were: Oklahoma State players Nate Fleming and Dan Lawson, sports information employee Will Hancock, director of basketball operations Pat Noyes, trainer Brian Luinstra, student manager Jared Weiberg, broadcast engineer Kendall Durfey, broadcaster Bill Teegins, pilot Denver Mills and co-pilot Bjorn Falistrom.
“The players are handling this with each other and obviously are grieving very deeply,” Oklahoma State sports information director Steve Buzzard said during a news conference in Stillwater.
Buzzard said coach Eddie Sutton called the families of those on the plane.
The Big 12 on Sunday indefinitely postponed Oklahoma State’s Tuesday night game at Texas Tech. Weiberg was the nephew of Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg.
“This is indeed a very sad day for Oklahoma State University,” school president James Halligan said.
The Beechcraft King Air 200 Catpass, which seats 11 passengers, crashed at about 5:35 p.m., said Jerry Snyder, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.
“All we heard was a real loud engine sound. It sounded like a shrill noise. Then I saw a big fireball,” said Larry Pearson, a dairy farmer who was working outside when the plane crashed.
Pearson, who was about a quarter mile from the plane when it crashed, said he called 911 and cut a fence so emergency vehicles could reach the crash site.
The King Air 200 turboprop would be “less prone to get above the weather” than the other two planes chartered by the team, which were corporate jets, Stillwater airport manager Gary Johnson said.
NTSB investigator Arnold Scott said no flight-data recorders were found Saturday night.
The plane was built in 1976, and the FAA said it was registered to North Bay Charter of Reno, Nev. No telephone number was listed for North Bay Charter in Reno.
Greg Feith of the NTSB told Denver’s KUSA-TV the aircraft “has an outstanding record. This is a solid airplane flying in these conditions if flown correctly.”
Mills was a “very safe” and experienced pilot, said family friend Judy Bachman. “He knew that plane like the back of his hand,” she said.
She said Mills, an Oklahoma City accountant who also sold and leased aircraft, had piloted aircraft for OSU athletes, including members of the golf and basketball teams, for five or six years.
Fleming was a redshirt freshman guard from Edmond, Okla., and Lawson a redshirt junior guard from Detroit.
Lawson, 21, played in Saturday’s 81-71 loss at Colorado, but did not score. He was one of the Cowboys’ main reserves, playing in every game this season and averaging about two points. Fleming, 20, did not play.
Teegins, 48, was a broadcaster for KWTV in Oklahoma City for the past 13 years. He was the play-by-play announcer for OSU basketball.
Hancock, was the media relations coordinator for the basketball program. He had been with the school for five years. His father, Bill Hancock, is director of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Will Hancock’s mother, Nicki Hancock, of Prairie Village, Kan., said she has received calls from across the nation.
“It’s wonderful to know that we have so many friends and so many people thought so highly of Will,” she said. “I think we’re still in shock at this point.”
In Stillwater, several players and girlfriends of teammates came in and out of the school’s basketball office with tears in their eyes, and some were sobbing.
Tom Dirato of the OSU Broadcast Group said he and an assistant coach almost got on the plane that crashed, but were moved at the last minute to another plane.
“There is a pecking order on who goes where,” he said. “This is part of a family in the athletic department. If anything like this happens it affects many, many people.”
In 1977, 14 Evansville basketball players and coach Bobby Watson were killed in a plane crash.
In 1970, 36 Marshall football players and 39 coaches, administrators, community leaders, fans and crew died when the school’s chartered jet crashed. A month before, a plane carrying the Wichita State football team crashed in Colorado, killing 31 people.
“I put my faith in God, so every time we board the planes I think it’s his will whether or not we make it back safely,” Colorado basketball coach Ricardo Patton told Denver’s KCNC-TV. “My prayers go out to the families and Oklahoma State University.”
We have two King Airs in Purdue's fleet. I believe they're a very safe aircraft. They are equipped with anti-icing boots, but those aren't as sophiscated as those on other corporate jets and airliners. Still, they can do the job just as good. However, speculation can lead to many things. Anyhow, I'll be just content to let the NTSB do their assigned duties in figuring out how this plane went down.
- Neil Harrison