TULSA - The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report on a fatal plane crash that killed four members of the Oklahoma State University community two weeks ago.
Kurt Budke, head OSU women's basketball coach, and Miranda Serna, assistant coach, were killed Thursday, Nov. 17 when the single-engine plane on which they were passengers went down in a heavily wooded area near Perryville, Ark.
Former Oklahoma Senator Olin Branstetter and his wife, Paula, both alumni of OSU, were also killed in the crash.
According to the NTSB report, the flight originated from Stillwater Regional Airport (SWO) around 2:15 p.m. en route to North Little Rock Municipal Airport (ORK).
The aircraft received no services at SWO when the coaches boarded the plane.
The initial NTSB investigation found that the Piper PA-28-180, owned and operated by Olin Branstetter, entered a right turn shortly after 4 p.m. and began descending. It disappeared from radar shortly after.
Witnesses near the crash site reported that the airplane was flying at a low altitude and making turns. They then saw the plane enter a steep nose-low attitude prior to its decent toward the ground.
The plane went down approximately eight miles southeast of Perryville in a heavily wooded area of the Ouachita National Forest.
According to the report, the impact mark on the ground was consistent with the plane's right wing contacting the ground first.
An impact crater measuring about 10 feet in diameter and 3.5 feet deep contained most of the airplane's wreckage.
Ground scars and damage to nearby trees surrounding the site were consistent with the plane's reported steep nose-low attitude at the time of impact.
The wreckage was transported to a secure location for further examination.
It could be months before a full NTSB report is released.