YPSILANTI, Mich. — In the wake of a charter-plane accident Wednesday afternoon involving the Michigan basketball team, coach John Beilein had a positive report on the status of his players and his program.
“Everybody’s fine,” Beilein told Land of 10 early Wednesday evening. “We had a few bumps and bruises, some scratches, maybe a few stitches are needed, but everybody is fine.”
Michigan had to be evacuated from its flight Wednesday afternoon after its plane slid off the runway following an aborted takeoff, according to a release from the Wayne County (Mich.) Airport Authority. The accident happened at Willow Run Airport, about 30 miles west of Detroit.
Michigan was scheduled to fly to Washington, D.C., for the Big Ten Tournament; Michigan remains scheduled to face Illinois at noon ET Thursday at the Verizon Center, and Beilein said his team still plans to play the Illini at the scheduled time.
“We’re trying to do that right now,’ Beilein said. “Our plans are a 12 o’clock game, and we’re trying to get there. I don’t think it’s advisable we do this again today. It’ll be an early-morning wake-up and get to the game and see what we can do.”
One catch, though. Beilein said his team’s equipment, luggage and uniforms remain on the original plane, which is sitting on a runway at Willow Run Airport, and Michigan will have to make hasty arrangements for replacement equipment and uniforms.
“It looks like we will not have that. You may see the first time a team will play a game in practice uniforms tomorrow.”
Out at Willow Run Airport – plane that went off the runway in high winds pic.twitter.com/8EGqY5SIQD
— Rachel Lenzi (@RLenziCMG) March 8, 2017
The Wayne County Airport Authority said in a statement that a charter flight that included members of the Michigan men’s basketball team aborted takeoff at Willow Run and went off the end of a runway, and that there were no injuries to 109 passengers and seven crew members.
Beilein did not elaborate on what exactly happened on the plane’s takeoff. The 10th-year Michigan coach, however, recounted the moments after the landing, amazed at how both flight-crew members and his players sprung to action.
“Just the evacuation of the plane was incredible,” Beilein said. “The flight attendants were great, the pilots were great in getting everybody off the plane. It seemed like a minute, it seemed like an hour and a minute the one time we were all off that plane. Student athletes opening emergency windows, emergency doors. The slides came down, and people running like heck, not knowing what could be happening.
“It was right from a movie. I wanted everybody to cheer, actually, because they could see that everyone was off the plane. And that was the goal, get everybody off this plane. You could smell fumes, and that was scary. It was just, get everybody as far away from the plane as we could.”