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Archive for Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Player’s family accuses OSU of negligence in plane crash

June 20, 2001

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— The family of an Oklahoma State University reserve basketball player who was killed in a plane crash in Colorado accused the school of negligence in a recently filed tort claim.

Daniel Lawson's relatives filed the claim June 7 in the state Office of Risk Management Administration. Lawson and nine others affiliated with OSU's basketball program were killed in a Jan. 27 plane crash near Byers, Colo. The team had played a game with Colorado earlier in the day and was flying back to Stillwater.

"It is our contention that the university failed to take reasonable steps to promulgate adequate rules and regulations regarding the use of ... aircraft," the claim states. "As a result of the university's negligence, Daniel Lawson met his untimely death."

The negligence includes failure to secure, maintain and inspect the plane, attorneys claim. A tort claim is usually the first step in the legal process toward a lawsuit.

OSU officials know about the filing but have declined to comment on the specifics of the claim.

"The university worked with all families to get through this tragedy," said Nestor Gonzales, OSU public information director. "We're trying our best to work with all the families, but not necessarily to avoid legal action."

Lawson's parents have voiced their displeasure in the matter, particularly with coach Eddie Sutton. In a March 27 segment of HBO's sports series Real Sports, the Lawsons blamed their son's death on Sutton's decision to make Lawson switch planes. The Lawsons said their son, who was from Detroit, had a fear of flying in small planes.

Sutton acknowledged it was his call for Lawson and teammate Nate Fleming to switch from the charter jet flight to the twin-engine prop plane, but he said he was unaware of Lawson's fear.

The Beechcraft Super King Air 200 crashed in a field 20 minutes after takeoff from Jefferson County Airport. Along with Lawson and Fleming, Will Hancock, Brian Luinstra, Jared Weiberg, Kendall Durfey, Bill Teegins and pilots Denver Mills and Bjorn Fahlstrom were killed.

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