Oklahoma grieves for OSU coaches; flags to be lowered
Flags will be lowered to half-staff Monday in Oklahoma in honor of the two Oklahoma State women's basketball coaches, Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna, and the former state senator and his wife killed Thursday in a plane crash.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma grieves. The state "is a close-knit community," said Alex Weintz, communications director with Gov. Mary Fallin's office. "It’s a difficult time I’m sure for the team and the school and the entire state. ... When something like this happens, everyone is affected.”
Fallin on Friday called for the flags to be lowered on all state government buildings. The fatal crash occurred Thursday evening in mountainous terrain near Perryville, Ark.
Former Sen. Olin Branstetter, 82, was the pilot of the small single-engine plane. His wife, Paula, was a passenger, along with OSU Cowgirls head coach Budke and assistant coach Serna.
Fallin said Friday in a news release: "The loss of Coach Kurt Budke and Assistant Coach Miranda Serna has shocked and saddened all of us. ... They will be remembered as great coaches and great people who made all of Oklahoma proud."
Condolences filled Twitter on Friday. A message from the American Red Cross in Arkansas was typical of the outpouring:
"Our hearts are heavy w/ @redcrossok, many of whom are #OSU alum. We share the loss of the #OSU student body, family & friends. Stay strong."
Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis held a news conference Friday: “When something like this happens and, God forbid it happened again, we have to pull together as a family. We've got to try to do that,” he said, pausing for tears.
-- Amy Hubbard
Photo: Jim Littell, associate coach for the Oklahoma State women's basketball team, receives a hug following a news conference in Stillwater, Okla., on Friday, Nov. 18, 2011. Littell will take over coaching duties following the death of head coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna in a plane crash. Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press