Low-key Commemoration Held on Anniversary of Crash
STILLWATER, Oklahoma -- On the eighth anniversary of a plane crash that killed 10 men associated with Oklahoma State University's basketball program, the school opted for a low-key approach Tuesday to commemorating the tragedy.
Despite frigid and icy weather that resulted in the cancellation of classes, the university kept open the lobby of Gallagher-Iba Arena, where a memorial to the 10 men is located. As in previous years, people left flowers and other mementos at the memorial.
No formal service was scheduled on Tuesday, but fans attending the Cowboys' game on Monday night against Oklahoma observed a moment of silence before the contest, as did fans at the Texas A&M-Oklahoma State women's game on Sunday.
As has been done each year since the crash, plans called for the university's Library Carillon to toll 10 times in honor of each of those who died. The tolling was to take place at 6:37 p.m. CST, the time the crash occurred.
The plane crashed Jan. 27, 2001, after the Cowboys had played at Colorado. The plane had taken off from the Jefferson County Airport outside Boulder, Colo., and went down a short time later about 40 miles east of Denver in a snow-covered pasture near the town of Strasburg.
Killed in the crash were players Nate Fleming and Daniel Lawson, director of basketball operations Pat Noyes, publicist Will Hancock, trainer Brian Luinstra, manager Jared Weiberg, play-by-play announcer Bill Teegins, radio engineer Kendall Durfey and pilots Denver Mills and Bjorn Fahlstrom.
"It was one of those defining moments that you have in life," university President Burns Hargis, an Oklahoma State alumnus, said of the crash. "It's still hard to believe it happened, and none of us are sure why. But I think we've moved through a lot of stages of grief and now we honor their memory.
"I think we're stronger, like any family that's had a terrible loss and comes together and supports each other. That's what's happened. These things, in kind of a strange way, actually tend to bring you closer together."
David Bosserman, the university's vice president for administration, and his executive assistant, Nancy Horner, had planned to make their annual trip to lay a wreath at a memorial to the victims near the crash site in Colorado, but university spokesman Gary Shutt said weather conditions prevented them from making the journey.
At halftime of Monday's game, executive committee members for the second annual "Remember the 10 Run" presented a gift of $20,000 to the university's counseling department.
"Apart from just the ache and the emptiness we all feel still, it's a great manifestation of the regard we held these people in to be able to provide assistance to people that really need it," Hargis said. "In their name and because of their inspiration, we're able to do that. I think it's a really fitting way to honor them because we'll never forget them. I think this perpetuates that memory as well."