A twin-engine plane carrying the East Tennessee State University basketball team crash-landed and burned at a Jasper, Ala., airport yesterday, causing minor injuries to 12 players.
Officials at Walker Regional Medical Center in Jasper said the injuries were mostly cuts, bruises and burns, and no one required hospitalization.
"We are very fortunate people. I don't know how it kept from killing all of us. It was a miracle," said Coach Barry Dowd.
The Convair 440, operated by Tennessee Airlines, notified air traffic controllers in Birmingham about 12:30 p.m. CST that its right engine was on fire and it was going to have to crash-land at Bevill Field in Jasper.
The plane, carrying 33 players, coaches, reporters and alumni, made two passes over the airport and then landed. Airport manager Bill Starnes said the tires blew out when the plane touched down and it skidded off the runway.
Passengers scrambled out the rear exit and through broken windows, escaping about three minutes before the aircraft was gutted by flames, the coach said.
The team from Johnson City, Tenn., had lost to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, 72-57, Saturday night and was going on to Oxford, Miss., to play the University of Mississippi Monday night.
Dowd said all of the team's equipment and luggage was destroyed, and the Mississippi game had to be canceled.
He said his team would stay in Jasper until Monday, then, "We're going to get on a bus -- a bus -- and go back to Johnson City."