49 years later: WSU survivors remember deadly plane crash

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

It's been 49 years, but Bruce Gerleman still remembers the day he and his teammates boarded two separate planes. 

"The two planes took off from Denver and we went the northern route up through Wyoming and the other plane, they took the short cut through the vail pass," says Bruce Gerleman.

That decision proved to be deadly when one plane went down, taking the lives of 32 people on board, including members of the Wichita State University football team, coaches and boosters. 

Gerleman still feels the pain. Every year, on the anniversary of the crash, he and other survivors gather at Wichita State to remember and honor the lives lost.

"Just the horror of the crash. The pain and suffering that it caused my friends and teammates and all of us," he says.

At the time of the crash, Gerleman was just a sophomore. He played defensive back and would face the rest of the season without his teammates.

"We went and buried all of our teammates. It took us about ten days and then we started playing again," says Gerleman.

He says getting back on the field without them was tough, but it was what kept the surviving players going...playing football and living the rest of their lives to honor the fallen.

"We were privileged to have a life they did not have. They all lost their lives when they were in the prime of their life. They were 18, 19, 29 years old. The biggest, the fastest, the strongest of all people, and they were all snuffed out," says Gerleman.

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