Weather ruled out as cause of plane crash
Federal investigators ruled out weather as a factor in the Arkansas plane crash that killed Oklahoma State women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna, The Oklahoman reported Sunday.
National Transportation Safety Board investigator Jason Aguilera said Saturday winds were calm and skies were clear when the small plane crashed Thursday afternoon into woodland in Perry County, around 45 miles west of Little Rock.
Former Oklahoma state senator Olin Branstetter, 82, who was piloting the single-engine plane, and his wife Paula, 79, were also killed. They were transporting Budke, 50, and Serna, 36, from the university base in Stillwater to Little Rock for a recruiting trip.
Aguilera said investigators studied the crash site and wreckage Friday and Saturday but were still unable to say what caused the plane to plummet into the mountainous terrain.
The initial study, though, did confirm that the four-seat Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee aircraft nose-dived into the ground.
"That's pretty significant," Aguilera said. "That makes us feel as though there's a good chance there was a loss of control prior to impact."
Aguilera said the plane, which was built in 1964, was transported to an aircraft salvage site in Clinton, Ark., for further examination. He said it could take up to a year to determine the cause of the crash.
Budke and Serna's deaths came 10 months after OSU commemorated the 10th anniversary of a crash that killed 10 men associated with the men's program.
Their memorial service will be held Monday afternoon at Gallagher-Iba Arena on the OSU campus.
Two women's basketball games which were scheduled for this weekend were canceled in the wake of the tragedy.
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