Tahlequah Daily Press

March 18, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: Former OU quarterback dies in plane crash


Associated Press

— SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Steve Davis, Oklahoma's starting quarterback when it won back-to-back national championships in the 1970s, was one of two people killed when a small aircraft smashed into three homes in northern Indiana, officials said Monday.

St. Joseph County Coroner Randy Magdalinski identified the victims of Sunday's crash in South Bend as 60-year-old Steven Davis and 58-year-old Wesley Caves, both of Tulsa, Okla. An Oklahoma athletics official confirmed it was the same Davis who played for the Sooners. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the school has not yet announced the death.

Caves owned the Beechcraft Premier I twin-jet that clipped one house before slamming into two more Sunday afternoon. Caves had a pilot's license, but it was not immediately clear if he was flying the plane when it crashed.

The plane leaked enough fuel to force the evacuation of hundreds of people from surrounding homes, but most residents were allowed to return Monday morning.

Frank Sojka, 84, who lives in the first home that was struck, went back to his home Monday morning so police could retrieve some items. A total of eight homes remain under mandatory evacuation.

"I'm surprised people survived that," he said as he sat in his car with his son, waiting for police to move the barricade on his street.

Sojka said he was in the front bedroom of the home he's lived in for 55 years when he heard a loud, dull sound.

"I got up and went into the living room and I could see the sky through the ceiling and all kinds of debris in the far end of the living room," he said.

The front part of the fuselage sat wedged inside the third house just southwest of the South Bend Regional Airport, where the pilot had tried to land the plane Sunday afternoon.

Two others on board the plane survived, South Bend Assistant Fire Chief John Corthier said. South Bend Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Maggie Scroope said Monday that Jim Rogers was in serious condition and Christopher Evans was in fair condition.

A woman who neighbors said lived in the middle house that was struck, Diana McKeown, was in fair condition, Scroope said.

The plane began its journey in Tulsa, Okla. It is registered to 7700 Enterprises in Helena, Mont., which does business in Tulsa as DigiCut Systems and is owned by Caves. Spoo said he did not know the connection between Davis and Caves.

"He absolutely loved getting in the air," Spoo said of Davis.

Davis went 32-1-1 as the Sooners' starter from 1973 to 1975, starting every game of Barry Switzer's first three seasons as head coach. Oklahoma tied Southern California in the second game of the 1973 season, and then ran off 28 straight victories with Davis under center. The Sooners went 11-0 in 1974. They won the national title again the following year after going 11-1.

Check back throughout the day for more updates, and see complete coverage in Tuesday's Tahlequah Daily Press.