Tragedy has hit Indiana’s football program and freshman tight end Paul Phillips. Phillips’ father, Bill, was killed in this week’s Alaskan plane crash that also took the life of former Sen. Ted Stevens and three others. Phillips’ younger brother, Willy, survived with undisclosed injuries.
They were part of a group of nine people on a fishing trip that also included former NASA chief Sean O’Keefe, who survived.
The single-engine plane, built in 1957, was headed to a lodge on Lake Aleknagik in southwestern Alaska when it ran into rain, fog and mist in a rugged mountainous area and crashed on a remote mountainside Monday afternoon.
Because of bad weather, rescuers could not reach survivors until Tuesday. They were taken to a hospital in Anchorage.
Phillips was not at Tuesday’s practice. He left Bloomington to be with family members, who are from Darnestown, Md.
IU coach Bill Lynch told the team about the accident Tuesday evening.
“The thoughts and prayers of the entire Indiana University community are with Paul, his family and everyone touched by this tragedy,” Lynch said in a university release. “Please be respectful of the family as they deal with this private matter.”
The 6-5, 225-pound Phillips is a highly regarded prospect and is part of a remarkably athletic family. His father played football at the University of Evansville from 1972-76 and faced Lynch and his Butler teammates.
Both of Phillips’ grandparents played college football and basketball. Phillips’ mother, Janet, was a college swimmer and remains a competitive equestrian.
One brother, Andrew, is a senior guard at Stanford. Another brother, Colter, is a sophomore tight end at the University of Virginia. The 13-year-old Willy also plays football.
The impressive family accomplishments go all the way back to the early 1800s and mountain man John Colter, one of the most famous members of the Lewis & Clark expedition.
Paul Phillips was a multi-sport standout in high school, excelling in basketball, track and lacrosse in addition to football. There is no word on when he would return to IU.