Plane crashes have spelled tragedy for many sports teams

Sixteen members of the 1960 Cal Poly football team were killed in a plane crash.
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

Tuesday’s plane crash in Colombia that killed 76 people, including members of a Brazilian soccer team, is not the first fatal incident involving sports players. Some of the more notable plane crashes involving athletic groups:

Nov. 8, 1948: Six members of the Czechoslovakian national ice hockey team were killed when their chartered flight crashed in Dieppe, France, en route to London for an exhibition game.

Dec. 9, 1956: Four members of the Canadian Football League’s Saskatchewan Roughriders and one member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers were killed when their plane crashed into Mt. Slesse in Chilliwick, Canada. The players were returning from a CFL All-Star game.

Feb. 6, 1958: Eight players and three staff members of the Manchester United soccer team were killed in a crash in Munich.


Oct. 29, 1960: Sixteen players on the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo football team were killed when their plane crashed during takeoff in Toledo, Ohio. Because of fears stemming from the crash, Cal Poly SLO football did not play any road games outside of California until 1969.

Feb. 15, 1961: The entire U.S. figure skating team (18 people) and 16 family members were killed in a plane crash near Brussels while on their way to the World Figure Skating Championships in Prague. The world championships were canceled.

Feb. 15, 1970: Fifteen members of the Puerto Rican women’s volleyball team were killed when their plane crashes into the Caribbean Sea.

Oct. 2, 1970: Fourteen players and the coach of Wichita State’s football team were killed when their plane crashed in Clear Creek, Colo., en route to a game against Utah State. Other members of the team on a second plane landed safely in Utah. The NCAA waived its rule against freshman playing in order to allow Wichita State to finish its season.


Nov. 14, 1970: Thirty-seven players and nine members of the Marshall University football coaching staff were killed in a crash in Ceredo, W.Va. The team continued to play the following season, using many members of other sports teams on campus to play football.

Oct. 13, 1972: Eleven players on Uruguay’s Old Christians Club rugby team died when their plane crashed into the Andes. Sixteen survivors of the crash weren’t rescued until two months later.

Dec. 13, 1977: Fourteen players on the Evansville men’s basketball team and its entire coaching staff were killed in a crash shortly after takeoff in Evansville, Ind. The only member of the team not killed (he wasn’t with the team because of an injury) was killed by a drunken driver two weeks after the plane crash.

March 14, 1980: Twenty-two members of the U.S. Boxing team, including 14 boxers, were killed in a crash in Warsaw, Poland.

Dec. 8, 1987: Every member (including players, staff and cheerleaders) of Peru’s Alianza Lima soccer team was killed in a crash outside of Callao, Peru. The team finished the season using retired players and members of youth teams.

April 27, 1993: Eighteen players on Zambia’s national soccer team were killed when their plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Gabon while en route to a World Cup qualifier in Senegal.

Jan. 27, 2001: Eight members, including two players, of the Oklahoma State men’s basketball team were killed in a crash in Strasburg, Colo., while returning home after a loss to Colorado.

Sept. 7, 2011: All players on Russia’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team were killed in a crash in Yaroslavl, Russia. Among the fatalities were former Ducks player Ruslan Salei and former Kings player Pavol Demitra. Also killed were former NHL players Karlis Skrastins, Igor Korolev and Brad McCrimmon.


Nov. 17, 2011: The head coach and assistant coach of the Oklahoma State women’s basketball team were killed in a crash near Perryville, Ark. The two were on their way to scout high school players after Oklahoma State’s season-opening win against Rice. The team’s next two games were canceled.

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