Larry Reece kept the piece of paper with the scribbled-down names from that horrible night. Andre Williams tattooed the numbers of his best friends on his back. James Halligan decided to wear his orange ribbon pin forever.
Later this week will mark the 10th anniversary of the plane crash that killed 10 members of the OSU basketball family. That winter night marked the darkest chapter in our state's sports history. Ten lives were lost in one terrible instant.
In the days that followed, we made a vow — we will remember.
In many ways, we have done just that. We still pause to commemorate the day of the crash. We still stop to look at the memorial in the Gallagher-Iba Arena lobby. We still see the banner hanging from the arena rafters and say a quick prayer.
We still remember.
But several who promised to never forget have kept the vow like few have. Some of their stories are featured in a moving documentary that debuts today on our website, NewsOK.com.
Larry Reece, the public address announcer for OSU football and basketball, remembers vividly the night of the crash. A friend called to say that one of three team planes had been reported missing on the trip back from the game at Colorado.
Reece raced to the Stillwater airport.
Because the two other planes had returned safely and those aboard had dispersed without knowing anything was wrong, school officials initially had no way of knowing who might be on the third plane. Reece and Mike Noteware, longtime employee in the sports information office, made a list of everyone who would've been on the trip.
“And we went out in the parking lot and started checking cars,” Reece said.
If someone's car wasn't there, their name was crossed off the list.
“If we marked you out, it was a good thing,” Reece said. “But if your car was in the parking lot ... ”
He never finished the sentence.
“I still have that piece of paper,” he said.
The names that were never crossed off the list intermingle with ones that were, a reminder of the fragility of life and the randomness of tragedy.
Andre Williams knows those truths well. He was only a sophomore when the crash happened, but despite being one of the team's younger members, he took on an unexpected role of team spokesman in those days after the crash.10th anniversary of the OSU plane crash