OSU Plane Crash Lawsuits Allege Negligence
The 2011 plane crash that took the lives of two OSU women’s basketball coaches as well as the pilot and his wife has resulted in lawsuits against the pilot’s estate.
Basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna were killed in the crash. Budke’s widow and Serna’s parents have brought the suits against the estate of Olin and Paula Branstetter. The lawsuits allege negligence, according to a report by the Daily Oklahoman.
The lawsuits were apparently filed in Kay County last year. Although civil filings are a matter of public record, Oklahoma news media, including the Oklahoman and the Ponca Post, reported the lawsuits only last week. Budke’s wife, Shelley Budke, and Serna’s parents, John Serna and Nettie Herrera, are plaintiffs in the suits.
The crash occurred in November 2011, west of Little Rock, while the coaches were traveling to Arkansas on a recruiting trip. The Branstetters were OSU alumni who often volunteered their time to provide private air travel to the university’s coaches. Olin Branstetter owned several oil and gas properties as well as real estate.
A National Transportation Safety Board report said Branstetter lost control of the plane, but the NTSB was unable to determine the cause. The report left open the possibility of a medical event causing the loss of control. The report also said the plane had recently passed an annual inspection, had no apparent mechanical difficulties, and that Branstetter had no drugs in his system when the plane crashed.
In a separate Oklahoman report published this week, it was revealed that Shelly Budke has received a $100,000 workers’ compensation award because of her husband’s death, plus $514.50 per week payments for life, unless she remarries. In addition, the coach’s three children received a total of $50,000 plus weekly benefits totalling $220.50. The workers comp court order also occurred last year.