By Chuck Bartels
The Associated Press
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Investigators found no evidence of mechanical failure to explain why a pilot lost control of a small plane that nosedived into an Arkansas ridge, killing the Oklahoma State women’s basketball coach and three others, according to a federal report.
An examination of the wreckage revealed no instrument failure and no anomalies in the engine or airframe before the Piper PA-28-180 went down near Perryville, Ark., on Nov. 17, 2011, National Transportation Safety Board said in a report dated Wednesday.
Oklahoma State coach Kurt Budke, 50, and assistant coach Miranda Serna, 36, were killed in the crash, along with the 82-year-old pilot, Olin Branstetter, and Branstetter’s 79-year-old wife, Paula. They were flying from Stillwater, Okla., to North Little Rock to scout two prospective high school recruits.
The NTSB concluded that the probable cause of the crash was Branstetter’s loss of control of the aircraft, but investigators found no evidence that the pilot had a medical issue that may have contributed to the accident. The board early on ruled out weather as a factor.
“The reason for the pilot’s loss of control could not be determined,” the report concluded.
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