Aces remember those lost on 35th anniversary of crash that kille - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Aces remember those lost on 35th anniversary of crash that killed entire team

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Thursday is an important day in Evansville's history. Thursday marked the 35th anniversary of the plane crash that killed the entire University of Evansville basketball team. 

The crash happened on December 13, 1977, the charter plane crashed just ninety seconds after take-off. It's an event that even 35 years later, is still fresh in people's minds.

"It wasn't just the university that was grieving. It was the whole city of Evansville," said James Byers, Former UE Athletic Director.

It's a day Byers remembers well. He tells 14 News he had planned to be on that flight, but had to stay behind to meet with a job candidate. Byers says the plane's take-off was delayed due to bad weather.

"I was very obviously not only shocked but just didn't believe it was us because they were supposed to have left at four o'clock," said Byers.

29 people died in that crash including the players, coach Bobby Watson and radio announcer Marv Bates. A tragedy that impacted the entire community.

"When something like that happens, they pull together," said Marty Simmons, Head Men's Basketball Coach, UE.

Thursday, flags are at half-staff on UE's campus and many memorials are in place around town, like artifacts in the "Corridor of Champions" at the Ford Center and the "Weeping Basketball" memorial at UE.

Long-time Purple Aces fan Paul Werner tells us after the crash he even started collecting newspaper clippings of the team, four or five boxes full, which he donated to the university.

On the crash's 35th anniversary, the Aces went on practicing as usual to keep the team's tradition alive.

"We, as current players and coaches, are, are blessed to have the opportunity to carry their spirit through us," said Simmons.

Simmons says even during recruiting, new players learn of those basketball players who went before them.

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