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OSU President: Budke, Serna Were 'Beautiful People'

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Miranda Serna and Kurt Budke at an OSU women's basketball game. (File photo) Miranda Serna and Kurt Budke at an OSU women's basketball game. (File photo)
OSU President Burns Hargis speaks during a news conference Friday morning. OSU President Burns Hargis speaks during a news conference Friday morning.
STILLWATER, Oklahoma -

OSU women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna are being remembered not only as incredible mentors who helped turn around a team, but as wonderful people who dedicated themselves to their families and community.

Oklahoma State University held a news conference Friday morning to reveal more details about the plane crash that killed Budke, Serna, and Olin and Paula Branstetter , two OSU alumni.

OSU Plane Crash page

They all died when their small plane went down near Perryville, Arkansas, Thursday evening. Authorities say Olin Branstetter was piloting the plane.

11/18/2011 Related Story: OSU Women's Basketball Coach, Assistant Killed In Plane Crash

During the news conference, OSU President Burns Hargis called the crash an incredibly devastating event, especially considering it's the second fatal plane crash to affect the OSU basketball family.

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"When something like this happens, and, God forbid, it happen again, we have to pull together as a family," Hargis said.

"The entire OSU family is very close. To lose anyone, especially these two individuals who were incredible life forces in our family, is worse beyond words."

Budke and Serna were on a recruiting mission to Arkansas. Investigators don't know yet why their plane crashed. OSU is sending members of its police force to the scene to help with the investigation.

"We don't know a lot about what happened and how it happened, but we know they're gone, at least from our presence. But I know they're here in our hearts," Hargis said.

The OSU women's basketball team was scheduled to play at home Saturday and Sunday, but both those games have been canceled. Associate coach Jim Littel has been named interim head coach. He said Budke loved coming to work every day and often said coaching the team was his dream job.

"He was a father figure to these kids. He had a tremendous knack of taking kids that maybe were struggling in part of their lives, and making them better for it. [But] He was far more than a basketball coach. Talk about a loving husband; a tremendous dad. We would sit around and brag about our kids."

Hargis also praised Serna. He said the recruiter helped build a solid team through her hard work.

"Coach Serna was a tireless worker and got those kids believing in her. She was the first in her family to go to college," said Hargis. "They were both just beautiful people."

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