Reports: Former UAB Blazer killed in small plane crash - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Reports: Former UAB Blazer killed in small plane crash

Torrey Ward. Source: Illinois State Athletics Torrey Ward. Source: Illinois State Athletics
Coach Torrey Ward sent this tweet from the national championship game on Monday night before he was killed in a plane crash on the return flight. Source: Twitter Coach Torrey Ward sent this tweet from the national championship game on Monday night before he was killed in a plane crash on the return flight. Source: Twitter
BLOOMINGTON, IL (WBRC) -

Former UAB basketball player Torrey Ward was killed early Tuesday morning in a small plane crash in Illinois, according to reports.

Ward played for the Blazers from 1996-2000. Ward and another member of the Illinois State University athletics department, Aaron Leetch, were among seven people killed in the crash near the Bloomington, Illinois airport as it was returning from the national championship game in Indianapolis. 

Ward tweeted photos of the plane and the stadium around 7:39 p.m.

Ward was most currently an assistant coach at Illinois State. After UAB, Ward played professionally in China for the Shanghai Sharks and was a teammate of former NBA player Yao Ming.

He coached the 2011-12 season in China and had also served on the coaching staffs at Jacksonville State and Ole Miss.

He had two children, according to his bio on the Illinois State website.

UAB head mens basketball coach Jarod Haase released this statement on Ward's death:

"I am deeply saddened about the loss of Torrey Ward. He and I have developed agreat relationship over the last three years, and I have the utmost respect for him as a coach and a friend. He truly was a rising star in this profession, but was an even better person. I think the world of his mom (Janice), as well as his entire family. We will keep them all in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."

Illinois State University President Larry Dietz released this statement on Ward and Leetch's deaths:

"Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

Although the McLean County Coroner has not made official confirmation, the Illinois State University community is deeply saddened by the loss of two members of the Athletics department staff. Aaron Leetch and Torrey Ward were among seven people who died when the plane they were travelling in crashed near Bloomington. Both men were well-respected and much-loved colleagues in our Athletics department. I join with the Redbird Athletics family and the entire campus in mourning the loss of these two men and the others aboard. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families.

Aaron Leetch was deputy director of Athletics for external operations. He leaves behind his wife, Lindsay, and daughters Avery and Emmersen. Torrey Ward was associate head coach of the Redbirds men's basketball team. He is survived by his children Torrey and Tamia.

Words cannot fully express the grief that is felt in the wake of such a tragedy. We move between shock and profound sadness. At times like these we may even question our deeply held beliefs and wonder what the future will hold. It is important to remember that we are never alone in our grief. A great many resources are available to help us cope with their loss in the coming days, weeks and months. Students impacted by this tragedy may contact our Student Counseling Services office at 438-3655.

We as a campus community rally together to support each other and most of all to support Aaron and Torrey's families. Let us remember Aaron and Torrey as they were: true Redbirds."

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