Oklahoma State has another tragedy to remember today
BY SARA PLUMMER World Staff Writer
Saturday, November 17, 2012
11/17/12 at 7:02 AM
Related story: John E. Hoover: OSU still coping with grief of crash.
Find more information about the crash and reaction, including a video of OSU President Burns Hargis’ press conference and a video of students’ reactions.
Saturday, Nov. 17, is another anniversary for Oklahoma State University students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends to observe with sadness.
A year ago - 10 months after commemorating the 10-year anniversary of a plane crash that killed 10 men associated with the Oklahoma State University basketball program - the unthinkable happened again.
Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of the plane crash that killed women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna, as well as former state Sen. Olin Branstetter and his wife, Paula.
Olin Branstetter was piloting the single-engine Piper PA-28-180 when it crashed that Thursday afternoon near Perryville, Ark., about 45 miles west of Little Rock, on a recruiting trip.
The event and those who died will be remembered Saturday during the OSU football game. Players will wear a "4" on their helmets and a moment of silence will be observed before the 2:30 p.m. kickoff. The library bells will also chime four times at 4:10 p.m., the time of the crash.
On Sunday, admission to the 2 p.m. Cowgirl basketball game is free and people can sign a Remember the 4 banner at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Suzanne Burks, director of university counseling services at OSU, said commemorating anniversaries of tragic events can be cathartic for people.
"Tragedy and grief affects us all in different ways," Burks said, and many are still dealing with the losses. "There's certainly a few who still grieve and mourn. For the families, it's not about moving on, it's about finding a new normal."
A preliminary concept for a permanent memorial is being reviewed, but a location on campus or at Gallagher-Iba Arena hasn't been determined yet, according to university officials.
In January 2001, a plane crash killed 10 people associated with the men's basketball team, including two players, on the way back to Stillwater following a game in Colorado.
"Most campuses never go through one, let alone two. I remember after the first I said, 'I can never do this again,' " said Burks, who was once again called on to help a year ago.
The people closest to those who died showed remarkable strength in the days and weeks following the crash, Burks said.
"That was a brave, brave team of great young women," she said, referring to the women's basketball team. She praised Jim Littell, who took over the head coaching duties.
"He coached those girls to a great season," she said. "He had that crash over his head the entire season. He and Budke were best friends. He was dealing with his own grief and helping the girls. He's a phenomenal man."
The crash in 2011 and the crash in 2001 have differences in circumstances.
Last year's crash involved a private plane piloted by two boosters carrying two coaches on a recruiting trip. The chartered plane in 2001 crashed on the way back from a conference game, with two student athletes among the victims.
The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the 2011 crash, and findings are expected to be released in early 2013, said NTSB spokesman Terry Williams.
After the crash in 2001, a task force was created to overhaul the university's student-athlete travel policy.
That policy didn't apply to the trip Budke and Serna took last year because it didn't include student-athletes, said Gary Shutt, director of communications at OSU.
A new task force made up of university representatives, a regent, alumni and aviation experts was formed to further evaluate and review OSU's travel policies. Any changes could be presented to the OSU Board of Regents this month, Shutt said.
Reactions, and responses, to the two crashes weren't the same either, Burks said.
"They were very different crashes," she said. "It impacted the student body more 11 years ago when two students died."
Even if someone didn't know one of the victims personally, the loss can still make an impact.
"If you've lost someone in the same manner or lost someone recently, they feel it more intensely," Burks said. "Many students this age haven't experienced loss like this. When young people die in such an abrupt manner, it really makes them think about it."
Remember the 4 memorial events
Members of the OSU Cowboy Football team will wear a "4" on their helmets in honor of the four killed.
A moment of silence will also be observed prior to the OSU vs. Texas Tech game scheduled to kick-off at 2:30 p.m. at Boone Pickens Stadium.
Edmon Low Library's chimes will ring four times at 4:10 p.m.
Admission is free to the OSU Cowgirls vs. Weber State basketball game set to tip-off at 2 p.m.
"4" stickers will be handed out to all in attendance. A "Remember the 4" banner will be available to sign.
Victims of the OSU plane crash
Notable: Native of Salina, Kan. ... Coached OSU women's basketball team from 2005-11 ... Won two national junior college championships at Trinity Valley Community College ... Compiled 423-104 overall record, including 99-68 at OSU and 273-31 at the junior college level (his .898 winning percentage is a national juco record) ... Youngest coach inducted into NJCAA Hall of Fame.
Notable: Native of Guadalupita, N.M. ... Won two state championships and went 46-0 in two seasons as a player at Eldorado High School in Albuquerque ... Earned freshman of the year and All-America honors at Central Arizona College ... played for Budke at Trinity Valley and won the NJCAA national championship in 1996 ... Finished her college career at Houston ... Worked for Budke at Trinity Valley, Louisiana Tech and OSU.
Notable: Korean War veteran, serving in the U.S. Army Reserves and the Oklahoma National Guard ... 1952 OSU graduate with a degree in agriculture ... State senator from Ponca City from 1987-91 ... A licensed flight instructor ... Helped establish the Olin D. Branstetter Memorial Scholarship at OSU.
Notable: Licensed private pilot ... Helped establish the Paula G. Branstetter Aviation Scholarship at OSU ... First woman to fly over the magnetic North Pole in a single engine aircraft ... Flew with her husband and son over the North Pole in the 1980s ... Also helped fly cancer patients from Ponca City to their appointments elsewhere.
Original Print Headline: Remembering the 4
Sara Plummer 918-581-8465
Oklahoma State student Taylor Miller on Thursday signs a banner in Gallagher-Iba Arena memorializing coaches Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna, who were killed in a plane crash a year ago Saturday. KT KING/For the Tulsa World
OSU hung wreaths on the Chi-O Clock outside the Student Union in honor of the four killed in a plane crash on Nov. 17, 2011. KT KING/For the Tulsa World
A photograph of Kurt Budke, a former Oklahoma State basketball coach killed in a plane crash a year ago, is attached to the Spirit Band drum set in Gallagher-Iba Arena. KT KING/For the Tulsa World