Cowboys Relive Tragic 2001 Plane Crash

Friday, November 18th 2011, 7:12 pm
By: News 9

Chris McKinnon, News9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- As news spread Friday morning that two women's basketball coaches at Oklahoma State University were killed in a plane crash, many in the community agreed they had been through this before. It was ten years ago when the school dealt with another deadly plane crash involving the men's basketball team.

"It's life changing for everybody," said former OSU Athletic Director Harry Birdwell. "You think back, well, we've been here before."

Birdwell lived through tragedy on campus before. It was back in 2001 that a plane crashed on its way back to Oklahoma from Boulder, Colorado killing ten people including two student athletes from OSU and News 9's Sports Director Bill Teegins.

"I think the one thing that Oklahoma State has learned over the years is that you can't forget," explained Birdwell. "Even in my own office the little statue and the photographs remind me every day."

Ten years after that plane crash, another one, opening a floodgate of memories for Birdwell.

"You know, at some point you cope, but it never goes away," said Birdwell.

Kathryn Wilson is another who will never forget that tragic day in 2001. Her dad was piloting the plane when it crashed outside of Denver. She felt what the families today felt ten years ago.

OSU Plane Crash page

"The instant I heard, I was feeling very sad and heady-hearted for the families knowing what they are going through at that moment. Remember when we got the call and um, it's a horrible feeling," she said while fighting back tears.

An outpouring of support from the OSU community helped Wilson and her family through one of the toughest times of their lives.

"You feel that love and support one more time and it's like a big hug," said Wilson as she recalled the stack of letters and card her family received. "It's nice when people share their memories and it's nice when people just say, 'I'm thinking of you.'"

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

Harry Birdwell knows the OSU community well and explained they will come together just like they did more than a decade ago.

"Care and dig deep and rely, rely on your faith and lean on others. That's all, that's all you can do," He said.

Harry Birdwell said this could not have come at a worse time for the university since everyone has been in great spirits over the success of their football team.