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OSU radio engineer Joe Riddle forms bond with plane crash victim's mother

Kendall Durfey was one of the members of the OSU traveling party killed in a plane crash nearly 10 years ago. Joe Riddle, who Durfey replaced on that trip, has built a bond with Durfey's mother.
BY JOHN HELSLEY, Staff Writer, jhelsley@opubco.com Modified: January 14, 2011 at 9:18 pm •  Published: January 14, 2011
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Unknown to each other before the crash, these two sets of people are now bonded.

Many lives were affected that day.

Riddle and Wright, however, affect each other positively.

“I think it's nice that he can think about me that way,” Wright said. “I'm glad he can call me and I can be there for him, and he can be there for me.

“I really feel like he's one of my kids. He's been a good part of my life.”

He calls regularly, not only on Mother's Day.

She attended the funerals for both of Riddle's parents.

It's a remarkable story rising from tragedy.

Riddle was actually responsible for Durfey joining the broadcast team, finding him on campus at Educational Television Services. They became friends, troubleshooted problems together and split the working road trips.

It was Riddle's turn when the Colorado game rolled around, except he'd promised a co-worker at his day job at KGTO, a small AM station in Tulsa, that he'd run his show that Saturday morning.

So Riddle asked Durfey to swap Boulder for Lubbock.

“And Kendall loved Colorado, too,” Riddle said. “I remember his words, he said: ‘I wasn't doing anything this weekend. I was just going to go to dinner with my wife. We can do that next weekend.'”

Riddle still struggles with the reality of losing those 10 friends but also of Durfey taking his place.

Entering this weekend, he wondered about where his emotions might lead him. And he worried without this matchup and without these returns to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, opportunities to “Remember the 10” might be shrinking.

Without the trips, there are fewer opportunities for the media to make mention. There are fewer fans on football and basketball trips to make excursions to the crash site and pay their respects.

“Those people meant so much to us, to the families and friends and co-workers and all that,” Riddle said. “My biggest fear is that it slips away in time. And I know it's going to, because there's nothing you can do about that. Time does that.

“So going up there for the final time I think, ‘This is it.'”

A generation won't ever forget.

OSU won't ever forget.

And the survivors won't ever forget.

Riddle and Wright, after all, have each other as reminders.

“She kind of took me in as her son, and I took her as my mom,” Riddle said. “I'll call her on all the road games and say, ‘Hey, we made it to Spokane,' or we made it here, something you do for your mom.

“We started a relationship. A really special relationship.”


Oklahoma State at Colorado

When: 12:45 p.m.

Where: Coors Events Center, Boulder, Colo.

Radio: KXXY 96.1 FM

TV: KOCB-34 (Cox 11)

Three things to know

The Buffaloes are 10-0 at home and coming off back-to-back wins against Top 25 teams — Missouri and Kansas State.

The Cowboys are 1-2 in true road games, with a double-overtime win over La Salle and blowout losses to Gonzaga and Texas A&M.

Guards Alec Burks and Cory Higgins are both NBA prospects, with Burks a likely lottery pick.

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