Oklahoma State basketball: One year later, a daughter is still mourned

Nettie Herrera, the mother of the former OSU coach Miranda Serna, spent a month in her daughter's house in Stillwater trying to come to grips with the plane crash.
By Anthony Slater, Staff Writer, aslater@opubco.com Published: November 13, 2012
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photo - Miranda Serna's mother Nettie Herrera, left, and sister, Cassandra look on during the memorial service for Oklahoma State head basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna at Gallagher-Iba Arena on Monday, Nov. 21, 2011 in Stillwater, Okla. The two were killed in a plane crash along with former state senator Olin Branstetter and his wife Paula while on a recruiting trip in central Arkansas last . Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
Miranda Serna's mother Nettie Herrera, left, and sister, Cassandra look on during the memorial service for Oklahoma State head basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna at Gallagher-Iba Arena on Monday, Nov. 21, 2011 in Stillwater, Okla. The two were killed in a plane crash along with former state senator Olin Branstetter and his wife Paula while on a recruiting trip in central Arkansas last . Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

The call from New Mexico State Police came at 4 in the morning, first alerting Nettie Herrera of trouble.

They wouldn't reveal what happened, preferring to tell her in person. But Nettie couldn't wait.

With various scenarios flying through her head, she first called Cassandra, her oldest daughter, who lived nearby.

Two nervous rings felt like an eternity, but eventually a soothing voice picked up on the other end. Cassandra was fine. Nettie was relieved.

One down, one to go.

Cassandra rushed over to Nettie's house and the pair tried to get ahold of Miranda, Nettie's youngest daughter and Cassandra's only sister.

“We called and called and called and called her phone, with no answer,” Nettie said. “We were worried, trying to figure out what to do. So we called Shelley (Budke), and Shelley told us what's going on.”

On Nov. 17, 2011, Miranda Serna was one of four people who died in a single-engine plane crash in the Arkansas hills, along with Oklahoma State women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and OSU donors Olin and Paula Branstetter.

Miranda was an assistant coach at OSU, considered a rising star in the women's basketball community and thought of as a tireless worker and big-time recruiter.

Back home in Mora, N.M., she was wildly popular through her community work and charismatic personality.

“We were all devastated,” Nettie said. “She touched so many lives and impacted so many people.”

So Nettie, along with her 11 siblings and other family members, took the eight-hour drive to Stillwater, as a show of support for Miranda.

They attended the prayer readings and memorial service in Gallagher-Iba Arena, fighting back tears for the duration of their stay.

“Then we went home for Thanksgiving and Miranda came home with us,” Nettie said. “And we had the funeral on Saturday.”

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