Butler players, coaches feared for life after team plane lost cabin pressure

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 16: Head coach Chris Holtmann of the Butler Bulldogs talks to his players during the game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Hinkle Fieldhouse on November 16, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Butler defeated Northwestern 70-68. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The Butler men’s basketball team lost cabin pressure during its charter flight on Thursday night, leaving players and coaches aboard fearing for their life, head coach Chris Holtmann told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

The Bulldogs were on their way back home from New York City after a 76–73 loss to St. John’s when the plane experienced the issue around 25 minutes into the flight, Goodman reports. That’s when the pilot had to make a landing in Pittsburgh.

From ESPN:

“It started to get really cold and the plane went completely dark,” Holtmann told ESPN. “Then all the oxygen masks came flying down, and the flight attendant told everyone to put the masks on. She kept repeating it.

“We had a really rapid descent. In the span of 10 or 12 minutes, we went from 35,000 feet to 10,000 feet.”

Holtmann said that players were crying, coaches were texting their loved ones in the event of a crash, and that he personally was “shook.” They planned on taking another flight back home on Friday against the wishes of some players.

The number of charter flights taken by Butler has increased in the last decade or so, with the team flying privately to every A10 road game beginning in 2013. Chartering has become common practice in larger Divison I basketball conferences.

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