The Crusader Newspaper Group

University of Michigan basketball team plane slides off runway; all safe

By David Jesse and Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press

Everyone is safe after a plane carrying the University of Michigan men’s basketball team crashed while trying to take off from Willow Run Airport on Wednesday afternoon.

The plane was trying to take off to deliver the team to the Big Ten tournament in Washington, D.C., but high winds caused problems, causing the takeoff to be aborted, U-M spokesman Tom Wywrot said in a brief e-mail to reporters.

“After attempting to take off in high winds, takeoff was aborted and, after strong braking, the plane slid off the runway. The plane sustained extensive damage but everyone on board was safely evacuated and is safe. The team is making alternate travel plans,” according to the e-mail.

Head coach John Beilein said it was a scary situation.

“Everybody is pretty shook up. There’s only minor injuries. The big thing to know is we have no major injuries. We do have some minor injuries, but nothing appears to be major. Everybody’s good. It could have been much worse.”

Michigan’s travel plan was revealed around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday night.

The Wolverines are scheduled to meet at 6 a.m. Thursday to head to the airport, leave from Detroit Metro at 7:30 a.m., landing in D.C. at 8:45 a.m., and then go straight for the Verizon Center.

They’ll tip off at noon against Illinois as originally scheduled.

There were seven crew members and 109 passengers on board on the flight operated by Ameristar Charters, which went off the end of Runway 23L shortly before 3 p.m., airport spokeswoman Erica Donerson said in an e-mail to the Free Press. The Airport Authority Public Safety and Operations teams responded to the crash. At 5 p.m., the airport was still closed.


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