OSU Community Mourns Loss Of Coaches In Plane Crash

Saturday, November 19th 2011, 8:52 pm
By: News 9

Jamie Oberg, News 9

STILLWATER, Oklahoma -- Plans are coming together Saturday night to honor and remember two Oklahoma State basketball coaches killed in a plane crash this week.

Special Coverage: OSU Plane Crash

The university will hold a public memorial service Monday for the Women's Head Basketball Coach Kurt Budke, Assistant Coach Miranda Serna and the pilots, OSU alumni Olin and Paula Branstetter.

Services and are set for 1 p.m. Monday at Gallagher Iba Arena. News 9 will carry the memorial live on TV and News9.com.

Stillwater was silent as the news spread; the OSU family shocked their coaches were not coming home.

It was just 10 years ago, 10 OSU family members were taken the same way. Hearts were heavy in Ames, Iowa as well as the football team lost its first game. But one widow and coach at OSU said life and sports must go on.

Oklahoma State is trying to get through a second day without two of its own.

"We're all so interwoven here, it's like a family member - it's like losing a family member," OSU student Sara Feverly said.

The OSU family lost two family members Thursday. Coach Kurt Budke and Coach Serna were flying to recruit new Cowgirls to their team when they and two other Oklahomans were killed when their plane crashed in Arkansas.

Sadly, the Cowboy family has been through this tragic fate before.

"Because it was 10 years and 10 months ago that we had that horrible accident, and there's not a day goes by that I don't think about one of those guys, because they were all great people. And for this to happen again, it's just a real catastrophe," former OSU Coach Eddie Sutton said.

Karen Hancock's husband Will was the spokesman for the OSU men's basketball program and was on the plane when it crashed one snowy night in 2001. Hancock coaches women's soccer at OSU.

"My heart goes out to those families. I can empathize a great deal with them. It's just so very hard," Hancock said.

As Cowboys cope with tragedy twice now in a decade, they have come to know it's not the scoreboards, bowl games or the first loss of the season. Nothing is more important than family as they try to make it through another day.

The National Transportation Safety Board is on scene investigating what caused the plane crash. A preliminary report should be five days. But officials say it could be a year before determining a final cause.

We're also learning more about the pilot of the plane and his wife. Former State Senator Olin Branstetter and his wife Paula were both pilots. They were known for their generosity, often flying patients who needed medical care for free.

Family members said the couple was passionate about their alma mater's sports, especially women's basketball. Family members believe 82-year-old Olin was flying the plane when it crashed Thursday in Arkansas.