Air Tragedy Claims 10

Jan. 27, 2001

? Memorial Front Page

Statement from Steve Buzzard, Oklahoma State University media relations director
"The NTSB has confirmed that a plane carrying eight passengers and two pilots did crash approximately 80 miles northeast of Denver tonight.

"We do not at this point have absolute confirmation of the number of fatalities. I do have a list of the passengers who were on the airplane.

"There were two Oklahoma State student athletes: Daniel Lawson and Nate Fleming.

"Pat Noyes, who is the director of basketball operations.

"Brian Luinstra, athletic trainer.

"Will Hancock, coordinator of media relations.

"Kendall Durfey, engineer for the OSU radio network.

"Bill Teegins, KWTV and the voice of OSU football and basketball.

"And two pilots, Denver Mills and Bjorn Falistrom.

"I can tell you that the NTSB is en route to the crash scene. They will be on hand and begin their investigation on Sunday. And there really isn't anything we could say or speculate as to the cause of the crash."

Statement from James Halligan, Oklahoma State University president
"This is indeed a very sad day for Oklahoma State University. My wife and I have met with Coach Sutton and the other coaches and players.

"We have ensured that our counseling staff is available to all the players to try to address their psychological needs. We've also tried to make certain they've had an opportunity to contact their parents.

"We've also made a sincere effort to contact members of the family of the individuals who were on the plane. Our concern at this time is in particular of the families of those involved, to make certain we contact appropriate members as quickly as possibly. That has been our primary concern.

"And at an appropriate time in the future Oklahoma State University will conduct a memorial service such that the contribution that these individuals have made to our athletic program can be appropriately recognized.

"But for now, it is our intent to focus on the families involved and the players to make sure they are appropriately supported."

The following are wire reports from the last 24 hours.

Associated Press Writer

STILLWATER, Okla.- This was supposed to be a day of Super Bowl revelry in this college town, with the only worry being whether stores would run out of popcorn, beer and peanuts.

Instead, the mood Sunday was as cold and dreary as the rain soaking the streets following the crash of a small airplane bringing people home from Oklahoma State's basketball game against Colorado.

"It's like a part of the school died," said Justin Battista, a freshman walking in the rain toward Sunday morning Mass.

Ten people were killed in Saturday's crash in a field 40 miles east of Denver, including two reserve basketball players and six staffers and broadcasters. The pilot and co-pilot also were killed.

There was no distress call from the crew before the crash, said Arnold Scott of the National Transportation Safety Board.

At Eskimo Joes, a normally rowdy off-campus hangout, one student couldn't keep from crying as she seated the few customers who came in on the quiet morning. At a bagel shop near campus, there was no laughter.

"Everyone is pretty melancholy," freshman Chris Shumake said. "They're just walking around like zombies, sort of. You hear of airplane crashes like in Europe and overseas, but you never think of it hitting home."

The hostess at Eskimo Joes, student Crystal Kelso, knew the two players who died, Dan Lawson Jr. and Nate Fleming.

"Nate, he was that walk-on that everybody wants to see get in the game," she said. "I just remember chanting his name a couple weeks ago so they would put him in the game."

Kelso said Fleming planned to help her start a community outreach program with other student athletes. Fleming, who also excelled academically, was going to talk to young athletes about staying out of trouble.

She said Lawson was a good friend, even though they didn't always get along.

"It's always hard when you didn't get a chance to say goodbye, or didn't get a chance to say sorry for yelling at you a day ago or whatever," she said.

Katie McCollon, a high school senior who also attends Oklahoma State, said she and her parents knew many of those killed.

"I grew up in Stillwater," she said. "OSU is like three blocks from my house. It's really close to home. OSU basketball is one of the highlights of the year for my family."

The school's game at Texas Tech on Tuesday night was postponed indefinitely. The Big 12 Conference said no decision has been made on other Oklahoma State games.

Sports information director Steve Buzzard said he expected the other players would spend the day in seclusion.

"I would be remiss to tell you I know what they're doing today because it's a private time," he said. "They were together last night for most of the night and I would guess they'd be together today."

The campus woke up slowly Sunday, although Sara Byerly was up earlier than most to attend church and check her e-mail at the library.

"Everybody is going to go back to life," she said. "But there are some people who are pretty upset still."

Associated Press Writer

STILLWATER -- Two Oklahoma State basketball players and six staffers and broadcasters associated with the team were killed aboard a plane that crashed in a snowstorm Saturday while returning from a game in Colorado, officials said.

The plane crashed about 20 miles south of Denver after taking off from Jefferson County Airport, FAA spokesman John Clabes said. The pilot and co-pilot also died.

Oklahoma State players Nate Fleming and Dan Lawson, sports information employee Will Hancock, director of basketball operations Pat Noyes, trainer Brian Luinstra, student manager Jared Weiberg, broadcast engineer Kendall Durfey, broadcaster Bill Teegins, pilot Denver Mills and co-pilot Bjorn Falistrom were aboard the plane, OSU sports information director Steve Buzzard said during a news conference in Stillwater.

"The players are handling this with each other and obviously are grieving very deeply," Buzzard said.

Buzzard said coach Eddie Sutton called the families of those on the plane to let them know of the crash.

"Obviously like everyone, Coach Sutton is stunned. But his concern obviously was getting in touch with family members and then obviously getting the help and support that everyone will need that's associated with the program," Buzzard said.

Big 12 officials will meet Sunday morning to discuss whether to postpone OSU's Tuesday night game at Texas Tech. Weiberg was the nephew of Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg.

"This is indeed a very sad day for Oklahoma State University," school president James Halligan said.

The Beechcraft King Air 200 Catpass, which seats 11 passengers, crashed at about 5:35 p.m., said Jerry Snyder, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Fleming was a redshirt freshman guard from Edmond, Okla., and Lawson a redshirt junior guard from Detroit.

Lawson, 21, played in Saturday's 81-71 loss at Colorado, but did not score. He was one of the Cowboys' main reserves, playing in every game this season and averaging about two points. Fleming, 20, did not play against Colorado.

Teegins, 48, was a broadcaster for KWTV in Oklahoma City for the past 13 years. He was the play-by-play announcer for OSU basketball.

Hancock, was the media relations coordinator for the basketball program. He had been with the school for five years and was a graduate of the University of Kansas. His father, Bill Hancock, is director of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

In Stillwater, several players and girlfriends of teammates came in and out of the school's basketball office with tears in their eyes, and some were sobbing.

Tom Dirato of the OSU Broadcast Group said he and an assistant coach almost got on the plane that crashed, but were moved at the last minute to another plane.

"This is part of a family in the athletic department. If anything like this happens it affects many, many people. "

In Washington, the National Transportation Safety Board said a team headed by board member John Hammerschmidt would fly to Colorado on Sunday morning to initiate the agency's investigation of the crash.

"Tragedies catch you off guard and by surprise," Colorado basketball coach Ricardo Patton told KCNC-TV. "But you know I put my faith in God so every time we board the planes I think it's his will whether or not we make it back safely. My prayers go out to the families and Oklahoma State University."

By The Associated Press

A list of victims from the Colorado plane crash that killed members of the Oklahoma State basketball team and staff:

Nate Fleming - A 5-foot-11, 185-pound freshman from Edmond, he was a walk-on who played in four games last year. He broke his nose in practice in late December and saw his first playing time since then against Texas A&M Wednesday night. He played high school ball at Edmond North, where he was valedictorian and a National Honor Society member. Born Sept. 11, 1980, he was the son of Zane and Ann Fleming. He leaves two sisters, Drue and Sarah.

Daniel Lawson - A 6-5, 215-pound junior guard from Detroit, the 21-year-old is survived by his parents, Daniel and Phyllis Lawson, two brothers, Eric Jordan and Austin Jordan, and two sisters, Karen Jordan and Shynika Lawson. Lawson came to Oklahoma State from Mott Community College in Michigan. He played in two of the first three games last season at OSU, then sat out the rest of the year as a medical redshirt.

Pat Noyes - Director of basketball operations, the 27-year-old was in his second year as the Cowboys' administrative assistant. He spent the 1998-99 season at Georgia State as an administrative assistant under Lefty Driesell, but before that had served on Oklahoma State's manager staff for five years, three of them as head manager. He earned the nickname "Snake" during the Big Eight Tour to Taiwan in the summer of 1995 by drinking a drink that contained snake blood. He graduated from Mount St. Mary High School in Oklahoma City before attending Oklahoma State, where he earned a bachelor's degree in physical education in 1998.

Will Hancock - In his fifth year as coordinator of media relations, Hancock joined the staff in October 1996. His primary duties included publicity for the men's basketball and men's golf programs, as well as assisting with the public relations duties for the other 14 sports at OSU. He previously served two years as director of communications at the Midwestern Collegiate Conference. He also worked as sports information director at Arkansas-Little Rock, assistant SID at Evansville and as a student assistant at Kansas. Born April 6, 1969. Graduated from Kansas in 1991. He is the son of Bill Hancock, director of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Married to Karen Hancock, coach of the OSU women's soccer team. Their first child, Andie, was born Nov. 16.

Brian Luinstra - An athletic trainer for the Cowboys, he joined the Oklahoma State program in December 1999 after four years as assistant athletic trainer at Wichita State. Luinstra, 29, also served as a graduate assistant athletic trainer at Wichita State during the 1994-95 and 1995-96 academic years while working on a master's degree in sports administration, which he completed in August 1996. He previously served as student athletic trainer for two years at Kansas, where he graduated in 1994 with a degree in sports science. A native of Augusta, Kan., he leaves a wife, Carolyn, a 2-year-old daughter, Alexis Renee, and an infant son, Garrett.

Bill Teegins - The play-by-play voice of the OSU Cowboys and sports director of KWTV in Oklahoma City, this was Teegin's 11th season with the team. He had been with KWTV 13 years and was sports director. He was named Oklahoma Sportscaster of the Year six times. Teegins moved to Tulsa from St. Paul, Minn., when he was 12. He graduated from Tulsa Hale High School in 1970 and attended Tulsa University. His television career started in 1975 in Amarillo, Texas. He moved to KOTV in Tulsa in 1981.

Jared Weiberg - Student manager, was the nephew of Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg.

Kendall Durfey - Broadcast engineer employed by Oklahoma State University educational television services.

Bjorn Falistrom - Co-pilot.

Denver Mills - Pilot who had flown Oklahoma State athletic teams for several years. He was a certified public accountant who also sold and leased aircraft. He leaves a wife, Lindell Mills, son, David Mills, 21, a student at OSU, and daughters Kathryn Wilson and Debra Mills.



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