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OSU homecoming wreck latest in eerie string of deaths


Saturday, October 24, 2015, 4:12 PM


Oklahoma State players stand during a 2011 memorial gathering after a plane crash killed women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna.

A fatal wreck at Oklahoma State University’s Saturday homecoming parade is the latest sports-related tragedy to stun the Stillwater school.

On top of the parade nightmare, the campus has lost 10 OSU student athletes and staffers in two separate plane crashes and a standout football player in a tragic car crash — all within in past 15 years.

A memorial honors the 10 people killed in a 2001 OSU plane crash.DAVID ZALUBOWSKI/AP

A memorial honors the 10 people killed in a 2001 OSU plane crash.

In January 2001, a plane carrying OSU’s Cowboys basketball team crashed following a game in Colorado. Ten people — eight OSU students and staffers plus the two pilots — died in the wreck.

The school erected a monument to “The Ten”: OSU players Daniel Lawson and Nate Fleming, Oklahoma City broadcaster Bill Teegins, OSU athletic media coordinator Will Hancock, student assistant Jared Weiberg, director of basketball operations Pat Noyes, athletic trainer Brian Luinstra, broadcast engineer Kendall Durfey, and pilots Denver Mills and Bjorn Fahlstrom.

Just more than a decade later, a second basketball plane crash stunned the campus.

Two of the Oklahoma State women’s coaches were killed in a November 2011 crash in Arkansas. Coach Kurt Budke and his assistant Miranda Serna were returning to Oklahoma following a recruiting trip when their small plane went down. Pilot Olin Branstetter and his wife, Paula, were also killed.

A Saturday crash at OSU's homecoming parade killed three people.J Pat Carter

A Saturday crash at OSU’s homecoming parade killed three people.

“Lightning is not supposed to strike twice,” OSU student Ryan Wylie told ESPN after the second horrific crash. “But it did.”

Between the twin aviation disasters, OSU’s football team lost a star senior football player in a 2005 car wreck. The death of Vernon Grant, a starting defensive back and a senior campus leader, rocked the team and the university.

OSU football player Vernon Grant was killed in a 2005 car wreck.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

OSU football player Vernon Grant was killed in a 2005 car wreck.

“This is a terrible loss for everyone associated with Oklahoma State University and the football family,” OSU head coach Mike Gundy said after the car crash. “Vernon Grant was a terrific young man who had an infectious smile and a positive approach to everything he did. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and teammates.”

Tragedy struck the school and its sports fans again Saturday, when a suspected drunken driver plowed into a crowd watching the annual homecoming parade. Three people were killed and 22 more were injured in the wreck, just hours before the university’s highly anticipated homecoming game.

“The Cowboy family pulls together, unfortunately we’ve had to do it before and were going to do it again,” Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis said Saturday.

With News Wire Services


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