OSU crash tugs local hearts

By Matt Stacionis

NIU Sports Information director Mike Korcek remembers when Will Hancock would come to Chick Evans Field House.

He recalls one year during the Midwestern Collegiate Conference volleyball tournament, Hancock played computer games with another sports information person. On Saturday, a plane carrying Hancock and nine other people inside the Oklahoma State men’s basketball program crashed near Denver. All 10 people aboard were killed.

“[Flying] is part of the job,” Korcek said. “You have to do a lot of travel, and [sometimes] you pay with your life. It’s just hard to believe.”

Hancock’s first child was born Nov. 16, and now will be forced to grow up never knowing his father.

“My heart just sank when I heard about it,” Korcek said. “Will was a good, young SID. That baby doesn’t have a father. It’s a real tragedy.”

Among those killed were redshirt freshman Nate Fleming, redshirt junior Daniel Lawson, director of basketball operation Pat Noyes, athletic trainer Brian Luinstra, play-by-play broadcaster Bill Teegins, student manager Jared Weiberg, broadcast engineer Kendall Durfey and pilots Denver Mills, who has flown OSU on several occasions, and Bjorn Failstrom. Weiberg was the nephew of Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg.

The plane, reportedly donated by a friend of the program, crashed after the team’s game against Colorado. The owner of the plane is not known at the present time.

“I think this is going to have a lot of universities examine how they travel,” Korcek said. “Some of the MAC teams fly in private jets.”

The crash, which occurred 40 miles east of Denver, is similar to the 1970 plane crash which killed 37 members of the Marshall football team. The crash is still under investigation and the remains of the plane, built in 1976, will be checked.