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OK State Basketball Coach, Assistant Killed in Plane Crash

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on November 18, 2011 2:10 AM

An Oklahoma State basketball coach, an assistant coach, and two others were killed in a plane crash Thursday, the university announced this morning.

Oklahoma State University women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna were killed in the crash about 4:30 p.m. in Arkansas. Former Oklahoma state Senator Olin Branstetter and his wife Paula were also killed in the crash, The Oklahoman reports.

Branstetter, 83, an experienced pilot, is listed as the plane's owner, the newspaper said.

Budke, the Oklahoma State basketball coach, and assistant coach Serna were flying back to Oklahoma after a recruiting trip. Witnesses tell investigators their plane swirled, then nose-dived and crashed. Weather conditions were clear at the time, The New York Times reports.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating, but it could take months to determine what caused the crash, according to the Times.

Thursday's crash evoked memories of a 2001 plane crash in Colorado that killed two OSU men's basketball players and eight others. Relatives of passengers killed in that crash brought wrongful death lawsuits against the plane's owner and the estate of the pilot, who was among the dead, Insurance Journal reported in 2001.

Crash victims' families also filed civil lawsuits against the plane's manufacturer and a company that made parts for the plane, ESPN reported. Some relatives received more than $1 million in out-of-court settlements.

An investigation into the 2001 crash found the plane had experienced an electrical failure, had a history of electrical failures, had not been properly maintained, and that the pilot should still have been able to land the plane safely, according to Insurance Journal.

Please follow this blog for more news on the legal ramifications that will follow this latest tragedy.

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