ESPN Network: | | | | | ABCSports | EXPN | FANTASY | INSIDER

  RPI Rankings
  Message Board
  NCAA StatSearch

Tuesday, January 30, 2001
Plane headed to Stillwater crashes; 10 killed

BYERS, Colo. -- 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 Fahlstrom.

"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.

A memorial service has been set for Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET.

Air tragedies
Fatal plane crashes involving sports teams:
Jan. 27, 2001: 10 affiliated with the Oklahoma State men's basketball team, near Denver
March 14, 1980: 14 members of U.S. Olympic boxing team, near Warsaw, Poland
Dec. 13, 1977: 14 members of University of Evansville basketball team, Evansville, Ind.
Nov. 14, 1970: 37 members of Marshall University football team, near Huntington, W. Va.
Oct. 2, 1970: 14 members of Wichita State football team, Silver Plume, Col.
Feb. 15, 1961: 18 members of U.S. figure skating team, near Brussels, Belgium
Oct. 29, 1960: 16 members of the Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo football team, near Toledo, Ohio

The school's game at Texas Tech on Tuesday night was postponed indefinitely. Buzzard said Sunday that the team will play its scheduled game against Missouri at home Saturday, but did not say when the Cowboys would resume practice. The OSU women's game against Baylor on Wednesday will go on as scheduled.

Oklahoma State executive vice president Harry Birdwell indicated that the school will review its air travel safety policies, but Buzzard added that the team would fly again. The Cowboys' next away game is against Feb. 6 against Nebraska.

Coach Eddie Sutton did not attend a press conference Sunday afternoon.

All other Big 12 games will be played as scheduled at the urging of Oklahoma State. Additionally, a moment of silence will be encouraged at all conference games -- both men's and women's -- and black and orange ribbons will be worn as a memorial to those who died.

"We are deeply saddened by the tragedy that has touched the Oklahoma State family," said Big 12 senior associate commissioner Donnie Duncan, speaking on behalf of commissioner Kevin Weiberg, an uncle of Jared Weiberg's. "This is a devastating situation and we offer our prayers and heartfelt sympathy to the families and friends touched by this event."

"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. He also said there was no distress call from the crew before the crash.

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 against Colorado.

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 and graduated from Kansas. 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."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

OSU to review travel policy in wake of fatal plane crash

Last-minute change saves broadcaster from doomed plane

NTSB: No evidence of engine failure in fatal crash

Private planes donated for use by Oklahoma State

 Sunday morning news report concerning the Oklahoma State plane crash.
RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

 Oklahoma State University President Dr. James Halligan speaks about the grief surrounding Saturday's tragic plane crash.
wav: 572 k
RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6

 Oklahoma State University athletic director Terry Don Phillips feels for all of the people involved in Saturday's crash.
wav: 121 k
RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6  HELP |  ADVERTISER INFO |  CONTACT US |  TOOLS |  SITE MAP
Copyright ©2000 ESPN Internet Group. Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and Safety Information are applicable to this site. Employment opportunities at