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Plane Crash Stuns OSU

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Plane Crash Stuns OSU

Filed by KOSU News in Feature, Local News.
November 18, 2011

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A routine recruiting trip to Little Rock, Arkansas turned tragic Thursday afternoon when the plane carrying two Oklahoma State coaches crashed, killing all four on board. The crash stunned the University community, coming just a decade after 10 died in a Colorado plane crash involving the men’s basketball team…

Inside the OSU Athletics Center is the memorial to the ten lives lost a decade ago in a plane crash. Today, roses lay across the memorial, as the campus grieves yet another plane crash, this time taking the lives of Oklahoma State women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke and his assistant Miranda Serna.

Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis said, “When something like this happens, and God forbid it happened again, we have to pull together as a family. We got to try to do that.”

Reports say the single engine plane nosedived into the thick forest around 4 PM. The weather? Clear, with temperatures around 40. Former State Senator Olin Branstetter was at the controls, with his wife by his side. They also died in the crash.

This is the second tragedy to hit the school’s basketball program. Back in January 2001, the men’s basketball team lost ten, among them: players, broadcasters, and staff. After that, the school remade its travel policy, requiring inspections when players fly. That rule did not apply to coaches and staff, and there’s no word on what precautions might have been taken.

“It’s unreal the tragedy that we’re going through right here. Definitely a very somber day on campus. Yesterday, music playing and people laughing and today it’s just silent.”

Tal Judkins, wearing an I Love Cowboy Basketball shirt, signed a banner in honor of the two coaches. At the Student Union on campus, a lone door opening and closing is all that’s heard.

There’s none of the usual laughing, talking, joking among students and staff. Instead, it was hugging and tears shed. Kyle Clayton is a senior at the school.

“Hits closer to home when you’re a student here. I mean the first plane crash I was younger didn’t really understand. You know it’s like shocking and hard to believe that it actually happened again.”

And that it would happen to two of the most beloved leaders on campus. By all accounts, both Budke and Serna inspired. Jim Littell, interim head coach…

“Coach Budke was a ball coach. What he did to turn this program around is unbelievable. That’s not important right now. What’s important is that he was a father figure to these kids.”

Kurt Budke came to Oklahoma State University in 2005 and quickly reversed the losing trend for the Cowgirls. He put together a 112-83 record, all with Serna by his side. She was in charge of recruiting for the team, and her efforts helped lead the program’s revival.

President Hargis said, “They were just both beautiful people and I’d love to be the man that Kurt Budke is and the person that Miranda was.”

A campus memorial service is planned for Monday.

“It looks very dark ahead. It’s hard to see any light at all. If we really help each other and support each other through this, someday, somehow, we will manage. But as I say, it’ll never be by forgetting.”

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