16 yr old girl survives plane crash , hikes miles to safety

15 Jul 2015 10:43 - 15 Jul 2015 11:15 #43182 by slim36
SEATTLE -- A sheriff says a 16-year-old girl who survived a small-plane crash and then hiked to safety reported that her step-grandparents died in the accident.

Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said Tuesday that Autumn Veatch told him Leland and Sharon Bowman of Marion, Montana, died in Saturday's crash. Searchers planned to resume looking for the wreckage early Tuesday.

The girl told Rogers they were flying in the clouds until the sky suddenly opened up to a mountain and they crashed into the trees.

Veatch told authorities she stayed at the crash site for a day before hiking down. A motorist picked her up Monday and drove her 30 miles east to a general store, where employees called 911.

She had no life-threatening injuries but was dehydrated. Veatch was taken to a hospital in Brewster to be checked out. Her father, David Veatch, made the drive from Bellingham to Brewster to be reunited with his daughter. He said she was a little banged up, a little dehydrated, and exhausted after days without sleep hiking through the woods.

"She's just an amazing kid," said David Veatch. "She's very gifted. There's more to her than she knows. I keep trying to tell her that but she doesn't believe me, maybe now she'll understand what I see."

He said the two sometimes watched survivor shows together and both believed the tips Autumn picked up through those shows ended up helping her.

"She definitely picked up that you're supposed to follow a stream down to civilization," he said.

Crews had been searching for a small plane with three aboard after it failed to reach its destination in Lynden over the weekend.

Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said Monday afternoon the girl managed to walk to the Easy Pass trailhead and onto Highway 20 where hikers in a vehicle picked her up. "She basically related the story what happened, out walking for the past few days and got to Highway 20 and waited for the first people to come by," said Rick Leduc of the Mazama Store. "It sounds like she just followed a drainage out and just continued (along) the streams and rivers getting larger. When she came across a bridge, she knew she was pretty much where she could get help."

"It's pretty miraculous she was able to do what she did. It's pretty rugged country... probably some of the harshest country in the Cascades."

"The report that we're getting from the survivor was that at some point during the flight the clouds came in and the pilot lost visual contact with the terrain and he aircraft collided with the mountain," said Jeffery Lustick with Civil Air Patrol. "To have a survivor come through this is... it's just a miracle."

Aero Methow Rescue Services of Methow Valley medics transported the teen to Three Rivers Hospital in Brewster. Officials say she was suffering from dehydration and would be kept for observation.

Friends of Veatch said she was in good spirits and said she thanked her father for making her watch survivor shows, which helped her after the crash.

"I'll tell you this, from all of us here -- we're just impressed with her," said Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers. "She's kinda like a super hero. Just amazing us what she went through -- especially at 16. Enough for an adult - but at 16, its pretty impressive."

link to nbcnews video on twitter
Last edit: 15 Jul 2015 11:15 by slim36.
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17 Jul 2015 18:51 #43217 by shadar
Coroner report today on her grandparents is that they died nearly instantly due to blunt force trauma from the crash, and then were burned beyond recognition, thankfully after they were already dead..

Their 16-year-old granddaughter was essentially unharmed except for some minor burns on her hands as she tried to pull her grandparents from the plane. The fire got too big and she retreated to hike for two days back to civilization. She picked up some scratches along the way.

She was in good spirits and joking around as per normal with her boyfriend once she go to a hospital.. She and her boyfriend look like uber-geeks.

That's one tough girl. Damn lucky too.

Fats will appreciate that they were flying VFR through mountains and got caught in clouds, per the girl's account. Lost orientation. When they broke out of the clouds, she saw only rocks and trees in front of them. Her grandfather tried desperately to climb but couldn't clear the mountain. They went into the trees, wings level but most likely in a full-power stall. A fairly common type of crash for low-skill pilots in mountain terrain during low visibility.. Pilots have been crashing this way since airplanes first flew in mountains. Aircraft was an A35 Bonanza, a high-performance, normally-aspirated V-tailed Beechcraft single-engine.

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17 Jul 2015 22:51 #43218 by inactive
Not to diminish her loss, but this would make a great origin story.

"I thought I was an ordinary girl, until the day I survived a head-on collision with a mountain. What do I do now?"

- GeekSeven

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