Arkansas News Bureau

Arkansas News Bureau

LITTLE ROCK — State and federal authorities on Friday combed the site of a plane crash in Perry County that killed four people, including the Oklahoma State University women’s basketball coach and an assistant.

OSU women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke, assistant coach Miranda Serna, OSU alumnus and supporter Olin Branstetter of Ponca City, Okla., and his wife, Paula, all died in the crash of a single-engine plane about 4:40 p.m. Thursday in a heavily wooded area about 45 miles west of Little Rock, authorities said.

Olin Branstetter, a former state senator, was the pilot, according to the OSU website.

“The Oklahoma State family is devastated by this tragedy,” said OSU President Burns Hargis.

Perry County Sheriff Scott Montgomery was at a command center not far from the remote crash site Friday and did immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

Lynn Lunsford, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said the cause of the crash had not been determined Friday afternoon and that investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were at the scene.

“We are still working to confirm flight path and other details,” Lunsford said in an email.

Budke and Serna had been on a recruiting trip in Arkansas at the time of the crash, according to the OSU website.

The university announced Friday that the women’s basketball team would not play games scheduled for today and Sunday and that counselors and athletic staff were offering assistance and grief-counseling to the student-athletics and staff.

Budke was in his sixth season as the Cowgirl’s coach. His team was 1-0, winning its first game on Sunday against Rice.

Budke, 50, was a native of Salina, Kan. He was married with three children.

Serna was in her seventh season as an assistant coach at OSU. A native of Guadalupita, N.M., she played basketball at Trinity Valley Community College and finished her collegiate career at the University of Houston.