Stillwater News Press

January 18, 2013

NTSB report doesn't reveal cause of November 2011 airplane crash that killed two Oklahoma State University coaches

By Russell Hixson
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — The National Transportation Safety Board didn't reach any conclusions about the cause of the 2011 plane crash the killed two Oklahoma State University women's basketball coaches and two university alums.

The federal agency released the report  of its investigation Friday.

While the report does not give a cause for the crash, it reveals many of the details leading up to the crash and highlighted what information could be gleaned from the wreckage.

The single-engine Piper crashed near Perryville, Ark.,  Nov. 17, 2011, killing OSU women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna. They were on their way from Stillwater to Little Rock, Ark., where they planned to scout high school players. Former Oklahoma lawmaker Olin Branstetter, who was flying the plane, and his wife, Paula, also were killed in the crash.

According to the NTSB report, witnesses said they saw the plane flying at a low altitude and making turns. It then entered a step nose-low attitude prior to hitting the ground.

Examination of the wreckage showed no pre-impact anomalies with the airframe or engine that might have caused the accident. The report noted that a week befoer the crash a muffler had been been removed, repaired and reinstalled following an inspection.

An examination of the pilot's body did not reveal any substances or medical conditions that might have been a factor. His cause of death was ruled an accident by blunt force trauma. However, the report noted that the condition of the body made the identification of possible medical conditions or presence of some substances impossible.

Meteorological conditions showed no weather hazards forecast along the airplane's route of flight.