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Headlines for Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Area news headlines from the Associated Press

Kansas Governor Issues Drought Declarations Covering State

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer has declared a drought emergency, warning or watch across the entire state. Colyer signed an executive order Tuesday following several weeks of abnormally dry conditions in all 105 counties. He declared an emergency for 28 southern Kansas counties and a warning for 29 other counties in central and southern Kansas. The remaining 48 counties are under a drought watch. The order directs state agencies to combat drought conditions. It also opens up land in the federal Conservation Reserve Program for cattle grazing and temporarily lifts height and weight restrictions on trucks for easier shipping of hay into drought-stricken areas. Colyer said the state must act because conditions are not expected to improve and "we need to get ahead of this as early as possible."

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Governor Issues Disaster Declaration for Fires in Central Kansas

LYON, Kan. (AP) — Governor Jeff Colyer issued a disaster declaration for three wildfires currently burning in central Kansas. State officials announced Wednesday that Rice County officials have asked for help from the Kansas National Guard to fight the fires. Colyer says the Guard will be sending helicopters to the area to help with the effort. The National Weather Service says one fire about 10 miles southeast of Lyons. The number of acres burning was not immediately available. The Adjunct General's office says in a news release one fire has entered McPherson County and other counties have reported fires. The State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka has been activated to help coordinate the firefighting efforts. Most of Kansas is under high fire danger warnings because of dry conditions and strong wind.

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Judge: Corps Responsible for Flooding, Damage in 4 States

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for causing recurring flooding that damaged farms and property in four Midwest states along the Missouri River.  The ruling Tuesday in Washington says the government must compensate farmers, landowners and business owners for the flood damage in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska. The damage has been estimated to exceed $300 million.  More than 300 farmers, landowners and business owners argued in the lawsuit filed in 2014 in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims that the Corps has altered its practices regarding the river's water storage, release and flow management. The suit contended the Corps unconstitutionally deprived plaintiffs of their land, essentially taking it without compensation.  On Tuesday, Judge Nancy B. Firestone found in favor of the plaintiffs in five of the six years that the flooding was claimed dating back to 2007, disallowing the flood claims in 2011.

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Expert Defends Estimates of Noncitizen Voters in Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — An expert witness called by Secretary of State Kris Kobach in a trial over Kansas' voter registration law endured intense questioning over his estimation that 18,000 noncitizens have voted in the state.  Jesse Richman, an associate professor of political science at Old Dominion, testified Tuesday in the sixth day of a federal lawsuit challenging the law, which requires people to show documentation when registering to vote.  Richman has offered various estimates, ranging from 1,000 up to 18,000, based on surveys he conducted. Kobach has said the 18,000 estimate is the best available number to show the law is needed to address widespread voter fraud.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Richman acknowledged under cross-examination that his surveys weren't peer reviewed. Instead, 200 political scientists signed a letter criticizing Richman's work.

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Kansas GOP, Governor Hopefuls Work Together on Reining in Debates

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — When it comes to debates ahead of the Kansas primary, Republican candidates for governor are a bit like teenagers who hope their parents will forbid them to go to parties they really dread anyway. The state Republican Party is taking lumps for getting most major candidates to sign a pact that has the party sanctioning debates only if they give all candidates equal time, ban personal attacks and prevent follow-up questions. Candidates who don't sign the pact can't participate in the debates that are GOP sanctioned. The criticism intensified after most skipped a decidedly unsanctioned Kansas Press Association event last month. The party defends the rules as focusing debates on issues that matter to active Republicans, while limiting the number to four, five or six before the Aug. 7 primary so candidates still can campaign largely as they wish. Chairman Kelly Arnold said the major candidates wanted limits and that the party doesn't want debates in which several serious candidates got little or no time. "Order out of chaos is always good," said Governor Jeff Colyer, who signed the agreement, adding that the resulting debates allow the participating candidates "to put their best foot forward." Chaos marked the Kansas governor's race even before former GOP Governor Sam Brownback resigned in January to take an ambassador's post, elevating Colyer from lieutenant governor to the top job. Colyer is running for a full, four-year term. Nearly 40 prospective candidates have formed campaign committees or appointed treasurers, though three serious Republican candidates have dropped out. At least six are teenagers and 10 live out-of-state — taking advantage of the state's lack of a legal age or residency requirement. Of the major GOP candidates still running, Colyer, Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer have signed the debate agreement. The fourth, former state Senator Jim Barnett, a Topeka physician and the party's unsuccessful 2006 nominee, refused. That kept him out of the first sanctioned GOP debate in February at the state party's biggest annual convention. Barnett contends the party-sanctioned format protects candidates — particularly Colyer and Kobach — from facing embarrassing questions. The agreement requires questions that all candidates can answer. "It stifles debate," Barnett said. "We should have open and free debate." The agreement also says participants must be registered Republicans and have voted in the state's 2014 election — excluding the teens and out-of-staters. Two candidates who participated in the February debate have since dropped out of the race, former state Representative Mark Hutton, and businessman Wink Hartman, both from Wichita. The Kansas Press Association had its own debate a week before, and of the major Republican candidates, only Barnett showed up. Doug Anstaett, the group's executive director, said others advised him that they felt they couldn't attend or suggested his group seek the GOP's approval. "We're the press. We don't ask for permission," he said. Anstaett added that it's "amusing" for a party to sanction a debate format designed to eliminate surprises for candidates. "That's the essence of government," he said. "You have surprises." Arnold said the party is considering tweaking the format for the next sanctioned debate April 13 in Atchison to allow follow-up questions.

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Kansas Senate Advances Bill for Protecting Campus Speech

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has advanced a bill aimed at furthering free-speech protections for college students. But some critics worry that the measure given first-round approval Wednesday could have unintended consequences. Another, final vote is set for Thursday to determine whether the bill passes and goes to the House. The bill would prevent state universities from establishing "free-speech zones" and disinviting offensive guest speakers. It also would ensure that university speech codes do not limit student speech. Senators amended the bill to require universities to hold open meetings when discussing student fees. Another proposed amendment that would have extended the bill's free-speech protections to include faculty failed. Democratic Senator Lynn Rogers of Wichita said the lack of protection for faculty members sends a message that they are "second-class citizens."

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Kansas Senate Unanimously Confirms New Child Welfare Chief

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has unanimously confirmed Gina Meier-Hummel as the state's secretary for children and families. The action Wednesday showed that legislators upset with problems at the Department for Children and Families have confidence in Meier-Hummel. Several senators told her during a confirmation hearing last week that she already has made improvements since becoming acting secretary in December. The 49-year-old Meier-Hummel was executive director for a nonprofit Lawrence children's shelter before becoming acting secretary. She replaced former Secretary Phyllis Gilmore. Gilmore retired with the department facing intense scrutiny, partly over the deaths of several children in abusive homes. One case involved a 3-year-old Wichita boy whose body was found last year encased in concrete. Records show that the state received at least eight reports the boy was being abused.

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Deal Reached to Fix Unintended Tax Break for Certain Farmers

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Congressional committees and farm groups have crafted language to fix a provision in the federal tax overhaul that gave an unintended tax advantage to farmers who sell their crops to cooperatives instead of other buyers. Both sides now hope to include it in a massive spending bill. The deal announced Tuesday is meant to keep the playing field level between co-ops and other crop buyers, ranging from independent local grain companies to agribusiness giants such as Cargill and ADM. The agreement "achieves this goal and restores balanced competition within the marketplace," said a joint statement issued by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas, plus GOP Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa, John Thune of South Dakota and John Hoeven of North Dakota. "I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to enact this solution as quickly as possible," House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas said in a similar statement. The complex language is the product of weeks of negotiations among committee leaders and staffers with farm groups, including the National Grain and Feed Association and the National Council of Farm Cooperatives. If Congress approves, the fix would be retroactive to January 1. The U.S. Department of Agriculture endorsed the agreement Wednesday. "Federal tax policy should not be picking winners and losers in the marketplace," Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach said. The agreement now needs to get folded into a $1.3 trillion spending bill that Congress must pass by March 23 to avert another federal government shutdown. But negotiations over the package have been roiled by a host of divisive issues, such as abortion and President Donald Trump's proposed border wall. The bill needs at least some support from Democrats to pass the Senate. Randy Gordon, president of the National Grain and Feed Association, urged his members Wednesday to lobby their lawmakers, saying time is of the essence. But the National Farmers Union urged Congress to reject the language. The group advocates for smaller-scale farmers and has deep connections with the co-op movement. "To repeal parts of this important tax break would be to strike at the single most important benefit family farmers received from tax reform," NFU President Roger Johnson said.

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Missing Wichita Child's Stepmom Will Remain in Jail

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The stepmother of a missing 5-year-old Wichita boy will not have her bond reduced so she can be released from jail. Emily Glass, stepmother of Lucas Hernandez, has been jailed since February 21 on a misdemeanor child endangerment charge involving her 1-year-old daughter. Glass reported Lucas missing on February 17. She is not charged in the boy's disappearance. Her attorney argued that Glass's $50,000 bond was too high for the misdemeanor charge. Judge Kevin O'Connor ruled Wednesday that Glass is a flight risk because of an ongoing investigation involving another child, although he didn't mention Lucas by name. Police say in court records that Glass was arrested for smoking marijuana while caring for her daughter the day before Lucas disappeared. She will remain in the Sedgwick County jail.

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Atheists Challenge Kansas County over Prayer Before Meetings

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Local government officials in the second most populous county in Kansas are grappling with a challenge by atheists to a decades-old practice of opening meetings with prayer, prompting a Sedgwick County Commissioner to say during a public meeting Tuesday that if they don't believe in God, he doesn't care if they "go to hell." Sedgwick County commissioners are planning to meet with their attorney behind closed doors in the wake of a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a group based in Madison, Wisconsin, that advocates for separation of church and state. The Wichita Eagle reports that the foundation has accused the county government of violating the Constitution by denying an atheist resident the opportunity to speak during the time the commission sets aside for its opening prayer each week. During a county commission meeting, Commissioner David Unruh mused about whether commissioners were going to get sued by "those people who want us not to believe in God." "I just keep wondering why are you so exercised about trying to prove to me something doesn't exist? I mean, it's logically stupid," Unruh said. "If you don't believe (in God) that's fine with me. I don't care, go to hell. It's fine." Commissioner Richard Ranzau, a frequent critic of his fellow commissioner, laid a hand on his shoulder. "That sounds like something I'd say," said Ranzau. "Go Dave go!" The Freedom From Religion Foundation hasn't decided to sue the county over the issue, but it might, its lawyer, Chris Line, said. "Honestly, I am shocked by the comments that they made," Line said. "It does sound like they're blatantly violating the law," A county policy against giving atheists a chance to deliver the invocation is unconstitutional, he said, contending it is discriminatory because it limits the opportunity to deliver the invocation to religious leaders or clergy members of a religious group with an established presence in Sedgwick County. County Manager Michael Scholes said commissioners will have a closed session Wednesday to consult with attorneys on the prayer issue. The conservative majority on the five-member Sedgwick County Commission has often attracted public attention after voting to cut recreation, the arts, culture, and the health department. Commissioners approved a resolution last year asking the Kansas Legislature to stop people living in the U.S. illegally from receiving in-state tuition or from receiving nutritious food through a federal program.

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Kansas Sororities Back Fraternity Social Activities Freeze

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Leaders of sororities at the University of Kansas say they support a decision to suspend all social activities for fraternities until a "significantly safer" environment is created at the school. The Panhellenic Association, which governs most of sororities at Kansas, said in a statement Wednesday that it would rejoin social activities with fraternities once they complete a strategic plan to improve conditions. The Interfraternity Council, which oversees 24 fraternities at Kansas, on Monday announced the self-imposed freeze on all social activities because of "systemic behavioral issues." The men will continue to hold chapter meetings and participate in philanthropy events that do not include alcohol. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the sorority organization said it hoped to work with fraternities to address issues that affect both organizations.

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Kansas Pharmacist Helps Get $20M in Donated Medication

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A staff pharmacist in Kansas helped spur a change in state law that has led to $20 million in donations of unused prescription medications to low-income and uninsured residents. Tim Reel looked on last week at the Duchesne Clinic in Kansas City, Kansas, as leaders of drug company OptumRx, United Healthcare and Gov. Jeff Colyer celebrated the millions of dollars in prescription drugs donated to tens of thousands of Kansas residents who can't afford it, the Kansas City Star reported . The donations began 10 years ago when Reel spoke with his boss at OptumRx about the shipments of unused medication that regularly get sent back to him. Some shipments are dented or have scuffed packaging. Others come from nursing homes or hospitals after patients either no longer need them or have died. "I asked my boss if we could donate it," Reel said. "He said, 'I don't think we can. There's no law that allows it.'" Reel's boss was a member of the Kansas State Board of Pharmacy, a regulatory group that licenses Kansas pharmacies. The board worked with lawmakers on a bill to allow donations of unused, unopened prescription drugs. The Kansas Unused Medication Donation Act of 2008 allows adult care homes, mail service pharmacies and medical care facilities to donate medication in its original packaging to 38 safety-net clinics and medical centers in Kansas that serve low-income and uninsured residents. "There are several medications I take that I would not have been able to afford," said Trudy Taylor, who received insulin through the donation program. "I'd probably be in the hospital or worse without the insulin." The program is administered by one of the clinics, where staff keeps an inventory of what medications are available and takes orders online from other clinics. Expired medication and controlled substances like opioid painkillers are prohibited. Reel said his proposal for drug donations 10 years ago is a lesson for "lowly" front-line employees. "Keep your eyes open and if you think you might be able tto help, jump in," he said. "And keep at it. This didn't happen overnight."

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$1.5 Billion Settlement in Suit over Syngenta Modified Corn Seed

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A $1.5 billion settlement has been reached in a class-action lawsuit covering tens of thousands of farmers, grain-handling facilities and ethanol plants that sued Swiss agribusiness giant Syngenta over its introduction of a genetically engineered corn seed.  Lawsuits in state and federal courts challenged Syngenta's decision to introduce its modified Viptera and Duracade corn seed strains to the U.S. market for the 2011 growing season before having approval for import by China in 2014. The plaintiffs said Syngenta's decision cut off access to the large Chinese corn market and caused price drops for several years.  The settlement must be approved by a federal judge in Kansas. It does not include exporters such as Cargill and ADM that are also suing Syngenta.

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Worker Dies in Accident at St. Joseph Sawmill

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Federal authorities are investigating a worker's death at a sawmill in St. Joseph.  The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said the worker died Tuesday morning at the sawmill at American Walnut Co.  The St. Joseph News-Press reports St. Joseph police Capt. Jeff Wilson said a man, believed to be 34, died in what is being treated as an industrial accident.  A spokeswoman for OSHA said the accident apparently occurred Monday afternoon.   American Walnut makes and sells a variety of lumber and specialty products, including gunstocks and hardwood slabs used in furniture.

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Kansas Lawmakers Pass Bill Aimed at Luring Big Chicken Plant

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators have given final approval to a bill aimed at attracting large chicken-processing plants to the state.  The House's vote Monday was 84-37 and sent the bill to Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer. The Senate approved it last month.  The House's vote came six months after Arkansas-based Tyson Foods put plans on hold for a $320 million chicken-processing plant outside Tonganoxie amid opposition from many local residents.  The bill rewrites laws regulating animal feedlots to set specific standards for large-scale chicken farms. It would allow farms with up to 333,000 chickens a quarter mile away from homes.  Cloud and Montgomery county officials still are trying to attract a Tyson plant and see the bill as helpful. Critics said the measure would not do enough to protect the environment.

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Kansas Lawmakers Considering Wager on Sports Betting Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers are considering bringing sports betting to the state. But even with an estimated $1.3 billion a year in wagering on the line, not everyone is on board. A House committee hearing had a hearing Tuesday on a bill to allow the Kansas Lottery to offer sports betting in state-owned casinos, over the Internet and with mobile apps. The bill is a response to a U.S. Supreme Court case in which New Jersey is trying to overturn a federal law banning sports betting in all but four states. Hollywood Casino lobbyist Whitney Damron said sports betting should be limited to "brick-and mortar" locations to promote foot traffic. Major League Baseball is neutral but wants both a share of profits and betting available on mobile devices if it is legalized.

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AP Investigation: U.S. Military Overlooks Sex Abuse Among Kids

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Even as the U.S. military confronts rape in the ranks, it frequently fails to protect or provide justice to the children of service members when they sexually assault one another.  That's according to an Associated Press investigation which found that assaults reported on military bases often die on the desks of prosecutors. Other cases don't make it that far because military investigators shelve them, despite requirements they be pursued.  Instead of punishment or rehabilitation, offenders may be shuffled into the civilian world.  The Pentagon doesn't know the scope of the problem. AP documented nearly 600 sex assault cases among military kids on base since 2007 in the U.S. and abroad.  Officials said they take seriously "any incident impacting the well-being" of service members or families and promised to take "appropriate actions."

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3 Cases of Measles Confirmed in Johnson County
 
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Three cases of the measles have been confirmed at a child care facility in suburban Kansas City.  The Johnson County, Kansas, Department of Health and Environment says on its website Tuesday that all three cases are in children under the age of 1, who are too young to be vaccinated. The department says it has reached out to contact those at risk for the disease. The affected children and people they have been in contact with will be excluded from the facility for three weeks.  Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. Cases in the U.S. are rare since creation of the vaccine, but the illness kills 146,000 people worldwide each year.  The disease is spread through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing.

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BuzzFeed Lawsuit Against Kobach's Office Dismissed

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A lawsuit filed by BuzzFeed has been dismissed against Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach over an open records request.  BuzzFeed filed the lawsuit in October, arguing that Kobach's office had refused to release emails containing any of 30 terms that relate to immigration or elections.  BuzzFeed said Kobach's office at first asked for $1,025 for 13 hours of work and an attorney's review, but then refused to release any records when the reporter challenged the cost. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Tuesday that Shawnee County District Judge Larry Hendricks ruled Kobach's office simply clarified that the payment for the records was needed in advance.  The judge also noted that court filings indicate BuizzFeed and Kobach's office are continuing to negotiate. The judge says nothing suggests the request was denied.

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Kansas Man Has New Hope for Adopting His Grandchildren

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man's bid to adopt his own grandchildren has new life.  The Wichita Eagle reports that 62-year-old David Rose Sr. was told in January that the children, ages, 6, 5 and 1, would be adopted by their foster family. Rose believed the decision was because he is a single black man while the foster family is a white, suburban married couple.  But it appears that the state is reversing itself after inquiries from the Eagle. Rose received a call from St. Francis Community Services, which contracts with the state for foster and adoption services, saying he would be allowed to have his grandkids after all.  A new hearing is scheduled for Thursday.  The children were taken away from their parents because of drug use.

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Fact Check: No, a Tornado Did Not Carry a Home Nearly 130 Miles

WICHITA, Kansas (AP) — A Kansas official has debunked a widely shared story that recently resurfaced on Facebook about a woman named Dorothy whose Oklahoma home supposedly flew nearly 130 miles before landing outside Wichita. Sedgwick County spokeswoman Kate Flavin told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the story is not true. The story was published in 2015 by the World News Daily Report and recently circulated again on Facebook. It claimed a woman named Dorothy Williams and four members of her family were carried in their Tulsa, Oklahoma, mobile home over northern Colorado before landing on an unoccupied car in Kansas. "This is false; it did not happen," Flavin wrote in an email, noting the publication's website states the content is not true. The story claims no one was injured in the home's 4-hour-plus flight amid winds that reached speeds of more than 220 mph. The story is accompanied with photos of storm damaged properties. The website includes a disclaimer that states, in part, that, "All characters appearing in the articles in this website - even those based on real people - are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any person, living, dead or undead, is purely a miracle."

(This is part of The Associated Press's ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.)

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United Mistakenly Flies Kansas-Bound Dog to Japan

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — United Airlines says it's investigating after mistakenly flying a Kansas family's dog to Japan. KCTV reports that Kara Swindle and her two children flew from Oregon to Kansas City, Missouri, Tuesday on a United flight. They went to a cargo facility to pick up 10-year-old Irgo, a German shepherd, but were instead given a Great Dane. Swindle, of Wichita, Kansas, learned Irgo had been put on a flight to Japan, where the Great Dane was supposed to go. Airline officials in Japan put Irgo on a flight back to Kansas City. It isn't clear when the dog will arrive. The news of Irgo's unplanned odyssey comes as United admits another dog died after a flight attendant forced it to travel in an overhead bin on a Houston-to-New York flight.

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Wichita State, Marshall Meet 48 Years After Plane Crashes

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Dan D'Antoni was a 23-year-old assistant with the Marshall basketball program in 1970, and a babysitter, too. He was at the home of a friend and team physician for the Thundering Herd when a plane carrying members of the Wichita State football team crashed in Colorado. As they watched the news unfold, and learned of the 31 lives lost, Dr. Ray Hagley turned to D'Antoni and said: "You really don't know how tragic this is going to be unless you live there." Six weeks later, D'Antoni was watching some of Hagley's six children when television and radio broadcasts were interrupted for a report that the plane carrying the Marshall football team had crashed near campus, killing all 75 aboard. Among them were Hagley and his wife. Their children were suddenly orphans. D'Antoni eventually left Marshall, and an athletic department ripped apart by pain and loss, only to return in 2014 to lead the Thundering Herd. As fate would have it, the program's first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 31 years means a game against Wichita State on Friday in San Diego. "We certainly experienced the same type of tragedy," D'Antoni recalled this week. The meaning of the schools' first matchup in men's basketball (they never played in football) is hardly lost on supports and alumni of two schools forever linked by tragedy. The bracket release on Sunday brought back reminders of the bonds forged by them in the days and weeks after the crashes, their struggles to rebuild and the awful memories that will never go away. "To be 18 years old and to be part of two human tragedies was a heavy burden," said John Potts, a kicker on the 1970 Shockers team who, like other freshmen, was ineligible to play at the time. That meant he was home in Wichita when one of the school's two planes went down. "Once we were made aware of the Marshall plane going down," Potts said, "we were all stunned, and it was hard to believe it was happening all over again. We were just a few weeks removed from laying all of our teammates, coaches, staff, faculty members and supporters to rest." The crashes were separated by a mere 43 days and 1,300 miles. 

It was a clear October 2 when the two planes carrying Wichita State's team took off from Denver, headed for a game at Utah State. The plane nicknamed "Black" took the planned route north and arrived safely, while the "Gold" plane carrying the starters, university officials and boosters took a detour that the pilots thought would give their passengers a more scenic view. The plane was unable to pull out of a canyon west of Denver , near tiny Silver Plume. It crashed into a hillside, killing 14 starters and more than a dozen others. "The events on that mountainside left an indelible mark on all of us," said Bud Moore, whose brother, Bill, was a tight end killed in the crash. "The disbelief and totally lost feeling we all experienced was and still is a hurdle you never quite clear. You attempt it over and over again but you always seem to fall just a little short. We all struggled to find any kind of explanation. "Then the next day — 43 days after our horrible accident — it happened again." It was a rainy, foggy November 14 night when Marshall's chartered jet, returning from a game against East Carolina, went down short of the Tri-State Airport runway. The plane burst into flames, leaving a charred swath of trees in what remains the deadliest crash involving a sports team in U.S. history. Both schools lost their athletic directors, head coaches and so many bright futures. "Those very challenging days 48 years ago ring clearly in both our universities every day," Moore said. "For me, it was a time of total confusion, looking for an answer was next to impossible." Jim Rhatigan was watching television in his Wichita home when the school's dean of students saw a news flash about the Marshall crash. He tracked down his counterpart at the school, Constantine Curris, and offered his insight on how his own school had dealt with the crash. They discussed grief counseling and support services. They talked about a memorial that was being planned at Wichita State, and one that Curris would eventually plan at Marshall. "I knew some things we had done very well in connection with our crash, and some things we'd done not so well, having had no practice or experience with this," Rhatigan said. "I was able to help him a great deal. We never did meet in the real sense, but I feel like we were connected for life." Just as the schools were bonded forever. "The very fact that he reached out, and was someone who had experienced what we were experiencing, gave us a lot of comfort as we thought about what we needed to do or what we could do given the extraordinary grief that swallowed the campus and the community," said Curris, who went on to become the president at Murray State, Northern Iowa and Clemson. Marshall assistant coach Red Dawson, one of the figures in the Hollywood film "We Are Marshall" detailing the crash, had driven to the East Carolina game because of a recruiting trip. He was heading home when he learned that the Thundering Herd's plane had crashed. The following offseason, Dawson went to a national coaching convention. He recalled talking at length with some of his counterparts at Wichita State, and how they leaned on each other for support. "They couldn't have been nicer," said Dawson, who remained with Marshall for another year before the pain and guilt drove him from the game. "It's taken me a long time to get somewhere thinking about it as history rather than reality." D'Antoni had to leave town, too, after helping his family find a new home for the Hagley children. The crash and its aftermath "didn't wear well," he said, recalling his many lost friends. He would spend three decades coaching high school basketball in South Carolina, then joined his younger brother, veteran NBA coach Mike D'Antoni, on the bench as an assistant for nine seasons. D'Antoni took his first college head coaching job four years ago, at the age of 66, summoned back to Huntington by a school that left him with so many mixed emotions. And while they no doubt presented a challenge, so did the job he inherited, taking over a program that had gone through seven coaches since last making the NCAA Tournament in 1987. One of the assistant coaches during the intervening years happened to be current Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall, adding another layer of coincidence — or kismet — to the Thundering Herd's game against the Shockers in the opening round of the East Regional. Those close to both programs are aware of their shared histories, the heartbreak six weeks apart that threatened to unravel their entire athletic departments. Wichita State ended up dropping football in 1986 after 18 losing seasons in a 20-year span. But they also recall with pride how they held things together, and how the schools' support of each other made a difference. "March Madness is always exciting," D'Antoni said. "To be a part of it makes it even better."

 

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