Dan Bewley, News On 6
STILLWATER, Oklahoma -- The memorial banner inside Gallagher-Iba Arena is overflowing with emotion; from flowers to pictures to notes of inspiration. They are clear signs the OSU community is grieving the loss of four Cowboys.
[It's] very hard to deal with something like this, especially on a semester that's supposed to be a very big one for me," OSU student Heath Bellman said.
Bellman is a senior and graduates in December. He says the messages on the banner reflect what's being felt all across campus.
"Very somber. Everybody's just pulled together. Everybody's just been very sad but we're going to stay strong and just going to get through this together."
The crash on Thursday, November 17, took the lives of women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna, along with longtime OSU supporters, Olin and Paula Branstetter.
Two members of the Cowgirl basketball team paid their respects at the memorial banner on Sunday. Their visit could easily sum up the emotions across the community. They received hugs of support from strangers, smiled at pictures of their coach, and, at times, were overcome with emotion.
"It's just heart wrenching," said Stillwater resident Sherry Gazaway. "I bleed orange, born and raised here, but this is just so sad. My thoughts and prayers are with the families."
The school is now preparing for another public memorial, much like the one nearly 11 years ago when 10 members of the OSU men's basketball team were killed in a plane crash in Colorado. Students say despite being several days removed from the crash, it hasn't gotten any easier to understand why a tragedy like this could happen again.
"I think it's the comparison, the fact that this would happen to us twice is what's been talked about most," Bellman said.
Monday's memorial service begins at 1 p.m. at Gallagher-Iba Arena. It is open to the public.