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Illinois State honors plane crash victims

Larry Lyons

Larry Lyons


In early April the Illinois State athletic department was hit hard by tragedy, with a plane crash claiming the lives of seven people including two who worked for the school who were returning to the area from the Final Four.

Men’s basketball associate head coach Torrey Ward, deputy director of athletics Aaron Leetch, pilot Thomas Hileman, Scott Bittner, Terry Stralow, Andy Butler and Woodrow “Jason” Jones lost their lives in the plane crash a couple hours northeast of the regional airport in Bloomington, Illinois where the small plane was supposed to land. Saturday the school honored these seven men in a private ceremony.

The Redbird Remembrance memorial consists of seven columns in a fountain, with there also being a plaque and a wall with the seven names etched into it.

“We felt that we had a duty to honor these men, support their families and strengthen the Redbird bond,” Illinois State AD Larry Lyons said in the release. “The permanency of the memorial is to honor their legacy with dignity and respect, and we believe the design is comforting and peaceful. We picked this location so that it is accessible to the families, the campus and the community to reflect and remember.”

According to the school its athletes will also wear commemorative patches on their uniforms this academic year.