Oklahoma State University officials confirm women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna died Thursday evening in a plane crash. According to the university, the pair was flying to Arkansas to recruit players when their plane went down about 4 miles south of Perryville, Arkansas.
Also killed were the pilot, who has not been identified, and former Oklahoma State Sen. Olin Branstetter and his wife Paula. There were no survivors.
Perry County Sheriff Scott Montgomery said hunters witnessed the accident and called it in around 4 p.m. “The plane was spitting and sputtering and then it spiraled and went nose first into the ground,” Montgomery said. “It went straight into the side of the hill.
The plane, a Piper Cherokee PA-28 built in 1964, was registered to Branstetter. The National Transportation Safety Board sent investigators to the scene to determine the cause of the crash. No other details were immediately available.
Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis called for students and staff to “pull together as a family.” “This is our worst nightmare. The entire OSU family is very close, very close indeed. To lose anyone, especially these two individuals who are incredible life forces in our family, it is worse beyond words,” he said at a news conference.
"Kurt was an exemplary leader and a man of character who had a profound impact on his student-athletes," Hargis said. "He was an outstanding coach and a wonderful person. We send our deepest sympathies to his wife, Shelley, and their children, Sara, Alex and Brett."
Hargis called Serna "an up-and-coming coach and an outstanding role model for our young ladies."
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