A little history…67 years ago today, Feb 13, 1953

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Purple Eagle
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A little history…67 years ago today, Feb 13, 1953

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A little history…67 years ago today...

Excerpt from “Tap’s, The Gentlemen Coach” by Senator Lloyd Paterson

“The saddest apart of the 1953 season was the tragedy that took place on February 13, 1953. Four Niagara students, William Murphy (Lockport), Richard Hens (Hamburg), Donald Nickel (Rochester) and James Sweeney (Elmhurst) rented a light plane for a leaflet “bombing” mission over the St. Bonaventure campus at Olean to focus attention on the upcoming basketball game between the Purple Eagles and the Brown Indians.

No word was heard from them after their takeoff on the 13th, with Sweeney, a licensed pilot at the controls. Hundreds of volunteers, including residents of nearby towns and college students throughout western New York joined in the air and ground search over 10,000 square mile area in the hilly southwestern section of the state.

With this great, yet mournful incentive to win, the Eagles rallied in the second half to down the Bonnies, 61-48. Bo Erias was super on the offense hitting 16 points for Niagara while Kenville (19) and Mike Bednar (13) lead the Indians.

On February 21, two farmer boys found the four bodies in the wreckage in dense woods east of Franklinville, near Olean. The plane had apparently struck trees during a snowstorm that swept across the tier…….

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