Three ORU seniors who graduated one week ago today and a former ORU marketing professor died late Friday afternoon in a plane crash in rural Kansas while en route to an Acquire the Fire Christian youth event in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
One ORU student survived the crash, the daughter of ORU Board of Trustees member Ron Luce, who founded Acquire the Fire conferences and Teen Mania ministries.
Those killed in the crash included:
Hannah Luce, 22-year-old daughter of Ron Luce of Golden Valley, Texas, was listed early Saturday morning in stable condition, according to reports about the crash.
|Luke Sheets||Stephen Luth||Austin Anderson||Hannah Luce|
According to media reports in Kansas, the eight-seat, twin-engine Cessna aircraft lost contact with air traffic control shortly after getting permission to descend to a lower altitude, and the plane crashed about 4:30 p.m. in a rural area about seven miles northwest of Chanute, Kan. A National Transportation Safety Board spokesman told the Associated Press that the plane caught fire after the crash.
Word about the Friday afternoon crash began spreading among ORU students via Facebook late Friday night, as students, staff and faculty asked others to join them in prayer for the two survivors and the families of the three who died. Prayers for healing turned to prayers of remembrance Saturday morning as word passed that Anderson died of his injuries.
Fox 23, the Tulsa television affiliate for Fox News, first reported at 10:20 p.m. Friday that a plane had crashed earlier in the day in Kansas, although the original news report did not include names of the victims or survivors, and it did not report the passengers’ connections to ORU.
Sheets was a certified commercial pilot who juggled his flight schedule this past school year with his classroom work. He was paid to fly medical patients and equipment to facilities in Midwestern states. His father is a retired commercial airline pilot who visited Tulsa last weekend for his son’s graduation.
Sheets had been pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business marketing but switched last school year to a media degree in advertising. He had planned to build his flying experience into a larger business for himself. As an older student, he lived off campus in the Tulsa area.
Sheets flew out of the Jones Riverside Airport in Jenks, just across the Arkansas River from ORU. That’s where Friday’s fatal flight originated.
Coble knew Sheets as a marketing student when he was teaching at ORU, as recently as the 2010-11 school year. Coble, a Henryetta, Okla. native, earned his doctorate in marketing from Oklahoma State University. He had just completed his first year as an assistant professor in marketing at NSU. He was engaged to an ORU student.