Monday 26 September 2016

Girl hikes to safety after surviving plane crash

Martha Bellisle in Seattle

Published 15/07/2015 | 02:30

Autumn Veatch's father David talks to the media at the Civil Air Patrol station at Bellingham International Airport, Washington (The Bellingham Herald/AP)
Autumn Veatch's father David talks to the media at the Civil Air Patrol station at Bellingham International Airport, Washington (The Bellingham Herald/AP)

A 16-year-old girl survived a small-plane crash in rugged mountains and hiked through thick forest to reach safety in a "miracle" escape.

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But Autumn Veatch said her two step-grandparents died in the accident in the state of Washington.

Searchers are still looking for the wreckage, and any sign of Leland and Sharon Bowman, three days after the aircraft went down.

"She said they were flying in the clouds and, in an instant, it opened up and there was the mountain, and they crashed into the trees," Okanogan County Sheriff, Frank Rogers, said.

The sheriff said pilot Leland Bowman was flying too low.

"He tried to pull up, but it was too late," Rogers said.

Ms Veatch remained at the crash site for a day before deciding to hike down, eventually finding a trail and following it to the trailhead on a highway.

A motorist picked her up and drove her to a shop, where employees called for help.

Ms Veatch has no life-threatening injuries but was dehydrated and suffering from a treatable muscle tissue breakdown caused by vigorous exercise without food or water, said Scott Graham, CEO of Three Rivers Hospital.

"It's a miracle, no question about it," Lt Col Jeffrey Lustick of the Civil Air Patrol said, saying he has spent 30 years in search and rescue.

Her father, David Veatch, told reporters outside the hospital that his daughter was exhausted but doing remarkably well.

"She's just an amazing kid," he said.

Irish Independent

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