A small plane crashed in Bloomington, Illinois early Tuesday morning, killing seven people, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune.
One of those lost in the crash was Illinois State associate head coach Torrey Ward. The flight was returning from Indianapolis, where passengers had attended the national championship game.
Ward, who previously served on coaching staffs at Jacksonville State and Ole Miss, had been with the Redbirds for three seasons. He was promoted to associate head coach in May 2014. A former player at UAB from 1997-2000, Ward also briefly played professionally for the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association before coaching in the league during the 2011-12 season.
The 36-year-old Ward is survived by two children.
The Redbird athletic department also lost Aaron Leetch, the deputy director of athletics for external operations
Illinois State athletic director Larry Lyons issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon.
“The Redbird family and the Bloomington-Normal community has suffered a terrible loss today.
Aaron Leetch was a shining star in this business. He had a gift in dealing with people and building relationships. Our external units were making incredible progress under his leadership, and he was on that trip doing what he does best. Torrey Ward was a big part of the success taking place with our men’s basketball program. He had a big personality, was a talented coach and recruiter, and our fans loved him.
Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of those involved. There is no play in the playbook for times like these. We will miss Aaron and Torrey deeply, and we will support their families in any way that we can. To honor their individual and collective legacies, we will move the Redbirds and our community forward.”