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
Wreckage was strewn over about a quarter of a mile across a
field. A team of National Transportation Safety Board investigators
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
"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
A memorial service has been set for Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET.
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
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
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
"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
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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,
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
Feb. 15, 1961: 18 members of U.S. figure skating team, near Brussels,
Oct. 29, 1960: 16 members of the Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo football
team, near Toledo, Ohio
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Sunday morning news report concerning the Oklahoma State plane crash.
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Oklahoma State University President Dr. James Halligan speaks about the grief surrounding Saturday's tragic plane crash.
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Oklahoma State University athletic director Terry Don Phillips feels for all of the people involved in Saturday's crash.
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