Next week marks one year since the deadly crash that killed four and wounded more than 60 OSU fans. As the university prepares for this year’s homecoming, the City of Stillwater is coordinating increased security efforts.
More than 80,000 people are expected to converge on the town once again and area agencies are partnering to make sure everyone is safe. Officers, deputies and troopers from more than ten local and state agencies will be on the ground as part of the public safety team, but the City of Stillwater will not reveal details due to security concerns.
City Manager Norman McNickle said in a statement, “We follow up by examining what took place. Then, we apply any lessons learned to improve safety for any upcoming events.”
As OSU alumni plan this year's parade, they are putting first responders in the place of honor, serving as grand marshals for their efforts to save lives in 2015. Alumni association president Chris Batchelder said it has been hard balancing celebration with tragedy.
“It was the exact people you would want on that corner when you would want them,” Batchelder said, “so we really wanted to strike that balance by focusing on the good that came out of that day.”
Those men and women will also be recognized on the field during the homecoming game.
A year later, many of the survivors will be coming together for the first time, as will the families of the four who were lost. Three horses and one pony will represent the victims in the parade.
“We’re going to lead off the parade with having a traditional cowboy remembrance of having a saddled horse with no rider with boots in the stirrups that’ll be adorned with flowers. If you’ve ever been to a real cowboy funeral, they will oftentimes have this as a symbol of saying goodbye with the riderless horse,” said Batchelder.
Security protocol for the homecoming football game will be the same as it has been all season, with partnering agencies performing a bomb sweep beforehand and placing officers in and around the stadium with a centralized command center. Visitors are encouraged to download the Orange Shield app to report crimes directly to the command center and receive any security alerts.