Photo: Oklahoma State Univ. Coaches Budke and Serna Die in Plane Crash
Assistance Coach Miranda Serna and Head Coach Kurt Budke of Oklahoma State University’s women’s basketball team are dead after their plane went down in central Arkansas Thursday night.
The single-engine plane (a Piper PA-28) carrying coaches Serna and Budke went down about 45 miles west of Little Rock and 4 miles south of Perryville.
Initial reports announced that all four people aboard the small plane died, the other two passengers being the pilot and another person not affiliated with the university.
OSU President Burns Hargis said, “The Oklahoma State family is devastated by this tragedy. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of Kurt Budke, Miranda Serna and the other victims.”
The coaches were on recruiting trip to Arkansas when the crash occurred.
The Perry County Sheriff’s Department said a local woman saw the plane and called 911 to report what she witnessed. Chief Deputy Mike Surrett said, “She saw the airplane swirling. It basically nose-dived and crashed.”
At around 6 p.m. local time, a helicopter located the crash site, where debris was scattered over an area of more than 300 yards. Surrett said the nose of the plane slammed into the side of a steep ridge and created a 5-foot crater. The weather at the time of the flight was clear, and investigators say it may take up to 9 months to determine a cause.
Both Serna and Budke were in their seventh season with Oklahoma State’s Cowgirls basketball team. Budke is from Kansas, while Serna hails from New Mexico.
According to her university profile, Serna’s family resides in Guadalupita, N.M. Her mother, Nettie Herrera, teaches Spanish, while her sister, Cassandra, is a history teacher.
The last month has been a rough one for college sports. This week, child molestation accusations came out against Syracuse University’s associate head basketball coach Bernie Fine, who has now been placed on administrative leave.
And Penn State was rocked when a whole number of questions were raised about alleged child sexual abuse by former Penn State football defensive coordinator Gerald “Jerry” Sandusky against a number of young boys.
The Oklahoma crash comes almost 11 years after another plane crash killed 10 men affiliated with the university’s men’s basketball team in January 2001. That plane is said to have crashed after the pilot became disoriented when power to the plane was lost and he had to manually fly it with use of limited instruments.