EVANSVILLE, In. (WEHT) — 42 years have passed since 29 people lost their lives when the plane carrying University of Evansville basketball team crashed on take-off.
The accident devastated a university and community. Now, one man is working to remember the ’77 Aces on the big screen.
Kyle Dietz says his father Richard covered the crash.
The younger Dietz has now written a screenplay about how the team healed and rebuilt.
“Out of the agony of this hour, we will rise.”
Those simple words were spoken to a heartbroken community reeling from tragedy.
“A state trooper came up and said the line that, ‘it’s the UE basketball team. It’s the Aces.’ He said that to my dad,” Dietz recalls. “And he called back to the station and said you’ve got to get a reporter out here, right away.”
29 young, bright lives ended tragically on a hillside here, leaving those first on the scene haunted by their memories.
“That was one of the hardest things he ever experienced, covering that story.”
His father, he says, never talked much about what he saw that night.
What Kyle knows about the Aces, he learned as a child; as his father worked on a show with new Aces coach Dick Walters.
He watched a young basketball team grappling with devastating loss.
“The Aces, because they were in such a need of players, they were recruiting guys that probably wouldn’t get to play anywhere else.”
Hollywood is already full of inspirational sports stories.
“Something like the Hoosiers, or We are Marshall. It would be as good or a better movie than one of those.”
That’s because there is no comeback story like the Purple Aces’.
“As soon as there was a team again, it kind of healed some of that hurt that the community was going through. Because they had somebody to cheer for.”
Dietz’s experiences and those of his father inspired his screenplay.
“For them to be able to do what they did, for one even having a team, but then making the NCAA tournament, it’s just inspiring. “
Out of the agony of that hour, they rose.
And now those words are forever fixed on a campus, in a community, that will never forget “The Night it Rained Tears” in Evansville.
He says he hopes the screenplay — can be made into a movie.
Friday, the UE Interfaith Peace Bell rang 29 times to honor those killed, followed by a moment of silence.