STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) It was supposed to be a day of Super Bowl Sunday revelry in this college town, with the only worry being whether stores would run out of popcorn, beer and peanuts.
Instead, the mood was as cold and dreary as the rain soaking the streets following the crash of a small airplane bringing people home from Oklahoma State University”s basketball game against Colorado.
“It”s like a part of the school died,” said Justin Battista, a freshman walking in the rain toward morning Mass yesterday.
Ten people were killed in Saturday”s crash in a field 40 miles east of Denver, including two reserve basketball players and six staffers and broadcasters. The pilot and co-pilot also were killed.
The crew made no distress call before the crash, said Arnold Scott of the National Transportation Safety Board.
The school scheduled a memorial service for 3 p.m. Wednesday in the campus” Gallagher-Iba Arena.
At Eskimo Joes, a normally rowdy off-campus hangout, one student couldn”t keep from crying as she seated the few customers on the quiet morning yesterday. At a bagel shop near campus, there was no laughter.
“Everyone is pretty melancholy,” said freshman Chris Shumake. “They”re just walking around like zombies, sort of. You hear of airplane crashes like in Europe and overseas, but you never think of it hitting home.”
The hostess at Eskimo Joes, student Crystal Kelso, knew the two players who died, Dan Lawson Jr. and Nate Fleming.
“Nate, he was that walk-on that everybody wants to see get in the game,” she said. “I just remember chanting his name a couple weeks ago so they would put him in the game.”
Kelso said Fleming planned to help her start a community outreach program with other student athletes. Fleming, who also excelled academically, was going to talk to young athletes about staying out of trouble.
Lawson was a star player at Detroit”s MacKenzie High School, where he made the varsity team as a freshman. He also was a three-year letterman in cross country before going to play basketball at Mott Community College in Flint. At Mott, Lawson earned All-American honors and was named Michigan Community College Player of the Year.
Lawson transferred to Oklahoma State last year, drawn in part by the “serene and peaceful setting,” said his older brother, Austin Jordan of Detroit.
Kelso said Lawson was a good friend, even though they didn”t always get along.
“It”s always hard when you didn”t get a chance to say goodbye, or didn”t get a chance to say sorry for yelling at you a day ago or whatever,” she said.
Sports information director Steve Buzzard said he expected the other players would spend the day in seclusion.
“I would be remiss to tell you I know what they”re doing today because it”s a private time,” he said.
“They were together last night for most of the night and I would guess they”d be together today.”
The campus woke up slowly yesterday, although Sara Byerly was up earlier than most to attend church and check her e-mail at the library.
“Everybody is going to go back to life,” she said. “But there are some people who are pretty upset still.”