Rick Tolley

Coach Tolley
Birth Name:
Rickey Dale Tolley
Birth Date:
January 6, 1940
Birth Place:
Havaco, West Virginia
Death Date:
November 14, 1970
Place of Death:
Kenova, West Virginia
Cause of Death:
Plane crash
Cemetery Name:
Spring Hill Cemetery
Claim to Fame:
Rick Tolley was an American football coach who served as the head football coach at Marshall University during the 1969 and 1970 seasons. He died in the 1970 plane crash that killed all 75 crew and passengers aboard, including most of the Marshall football team and coaching staff and several team boosters. Southern Airways Flight 932 was a chartered Southern Airways Douglas DC-9 domestic United States commercial jet flight from Stallings Field (ISO) in Kinston, North Carolina, to Huntington Tri-State Airport/Milton J. Ferguson Field (HTS) near Kenova, West Virginia. At 7:36 pm on November 14, 1970, the aircraft crashed into a hill just short of the Tri-State Airport, killing all 75 people on board. The accident is the deadliest tragedy to have affected any sports team in U.S. history.

On That Day …

Everyone on board perished that included 36 football players, 39 coaches, school administrators, community leaders, boosters and the flight crew. Players who didn’t make the road trip were called upon to identify crash victims through clothing, jewelry, shoes – even scars. Six players whose bodies were never identified were buried at the Marshall University Plane Crash Memorial. The crash left 18 children as orphans.

The airliner continued on final approach to Tri-State Airport when it collided with the tops of trees on a hillside 5,543 ft west of runway 11 (now runway 12). The plane burst into flames and created a swath of charred ground 95 ft wide and 279 ft long. According to the official National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report, the accident was “unsurvivable”. The aircraft “dipped to the right, almost inverted, and had crashed into a hollow ‘nose-first'”. By the time the plane came to a stop, it was 4,219 ft short of the runway and 275 ft south of the middle marker. The report additionally notes, “Most of the fuselage was melted or reduced to a powder-like substance; however, several large pieces were scattered throughout the burned area.” The remains of six passengers were never identified.

The NTSB investigated the accident and its final report was issued on April 14, 1972. In the report, the NTSB concluded, “[…] the probable cause of this accident was the descent below Minimum Descent Altitude during a nonprecision approach under adverse operating conditions, without visual contact with the runway environment”.

Cemetery Information:

Final Resting Place:

Spring Hill Cemetery

1427 Norway Avenue

Huntington, West Virginia, 25701


North America

Grave Location:

Section 1953M, Marshall University Plane Crash Memorial

Grave Location Description

As you drive into the cemetery from second entrance on Norway Avenue the road will curve around to the right. Take the first hard right and then the second right (just follow the signs) to the Marshall University Plane Crash Memorial featuring the final resting place of head coach Rick Tolley.

Grave Location GPS

38.41254342373635, -82.41887468894218

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