Plane crash in Mexico kills 16 Husky fans on September 12, 2001.

  • By Priscilla Long
  • Posted 12/22/2001
  • Essay 3656

On September 12, 2001, just one day after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center's twin towers in New York and on the Pentagon in Washington D. C., 16 Husky football fans (along with three others) lose their lives in a plane crash in Mexico. The fans of the University of Washington team were on a Caribbean cruise of Husky fans that was to culminate with the Washington-Miami game in the Orange Bowl on September 15. The cruise ship had docked at Cozumel, Mexico, and the group had gone on a side trip to see the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza. The plane crashed in a corn field in the Yucatan Peninsula just after take off for the return trip, probably due to engine failure. All 19 on board were killed.

The Husky fans killed were:

  • Karen Burks, 37. A certified public accountant, and mother of two daughters. She was a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority traveling with two sorority sisters, Lisa Styer and Sue Dalton. Lisa Styer was also killed in the crash.
  • Scott Columbia, 44. A Boeing engineer. He was married to Debbie Columbia, who was not on the airplane.
  • Charles (Chuck) Genther. Resident of Laurelhurst and former owner of Olympic Chemical Co. Husband of Shirley Genther.
  • Shirley Genther. Resident of Laurelhurst and wife of Charles Genther.
  • Mary Kearney, 57. Vice President of a San Diego savings and loan association, and a weaver.
  • Barbara Martin, 56. Retired social studies and English teacher at Meadowdale Middle School in Lynnwood.
  • Dwight Mitchell, 64. Resident of Oak Harbor. Retired automobile mechanic who worked for a Ford dealership for 30 years. Husband of Lois Mitchell.
  • Lois Mitchell, 60. Resident of Oak Harbor. Retired home economics teacher at Oak Harbor School and Oak Harbor Junior High. Wife of Dwight Mitchell.
  • Larry Schwab, 50. General manager of Professional Building Contractors, located in Des Moines. Husband of Linda Schwab.
  • Linda Schwab, 50. Corporate executive for Qwest. Wife of Larry Schwab. The Schwabs grew up in Auburn and were high school sweethearts celebrating their 32nd wedding anniversary.
  • Lisa Styer, 36. A Boeing engineer and member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. She was traveling with two sorority sisters, Karen Burks and Sue Dalton. Karen Burks was also killed in the crash.
  • Geoff Vernon, 59. Retired president of Vernon Publications, and president of the UW Alumni Association. He attended Ballard High School and he and his wife Judy Vernon were high school sweethearts.
  • Judy Vernon, 59. Homemaker and partner of Geoff Vernon in Vernon Publications. She attended Ballard High school and was the wife of Geoff Vernon.
  • Larry Wade, 60. Resident of the Blue Ridge neighborhood in Seattle. President of Hammond Collier & Wade-Livingstone Associates, a civil engineering consulting firm with offices in Seattle, Wenatchee, and Omak. Husband of Judy Wade.
  • Judy Wade, 58. Resident of Blue Ridge in Seattle. Community volunteer and avid tennis player who was the wife of Larry Wade.
  • Theodore (Ted) Zylstra, 67. Oak Harbor lawyer.


Jon Marmor, "Remember the Huskies," Columns Vol. 21, No, 4 (December 2001), pp. 26-30.

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