Survivor of 2 plane crashes still intends to play college ball
Austin Hatch survived two plane crashes that, collectively, killed his parents and two siblings. He's recovering from serious injuries.
May 1st, 2012
07:14 PM ET

Survivor of 2 plane crashes still intends to play college ball

Things were looking bright for 16-year-old Austin Hatch as last summer began. The Indiana boy who had survived a plane crash that killed his mother and two siblings eight years earlier had just verbally committed to playing basketball for the University of Michigan in 2013.

Then the 6-foot, 6-inch high school basketball star boarded another small plane - piloted by his father, who also flew the 2003 flight - bound for the family’s summer home in Michigan.

That plane crashed as it approached a Michigan airport on June 24, 2011, this time killing his father and stepmother.

Austin survived again, but now with brain bruising and other injuries, and without any immediate family members. He was in a medically induced coma for weeks and underwent months of physical therapy.

This week, he told the Detroit Free Press that he’ll still be on Michigan’s team when the 2013-2014 season begins.

"I'm still going on a full basketball scholarship,” Austin told the Free Press for a story published Tuesday. “I'll still be on the team and all of that and go to practice and everything. But I just don't know if I'll be quite as good as I was before.

“But I still have over a year until then, so a lot can happen."

Austin, of Canterbury High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, sat out all of his junior season. Released from a rehabilitation hospital last fall, he speaks slower than he used to and hasn’t yet been cleared to play basketball. But says his brain is almost as sharp as it was, and says he has the backing of Michigan coach John Beilein, who can’t comment publicly about Austin until he signs a letter of intent this fall, the Free Press reported.

“(Beilein) is one of the best guys that I know. He’s unbelievable,” Austin told the Free Press. “He says you’re not going to be as good at basketball – not yet. It takes time. He understands my road to recovery is not going to be an easy one.”

Austin was 8 when a plane piloted by Dr. Stephen Hatch, an anesthesiologist, crashed after clipping a power pole in Wells County, Indiana, in 2003, CNN affiliate WPTA reported. Austin and his father survived, but Hatch’s wife, Julie, 38; daughter Lindsay, 11; and son Ian, 5, were killed.

The National Transportation Safety Board determined that last June’s crash happened because the plane stalled due to inadequate air speed, WPTA reported. The plane hit a home’s garage near Charlevoix Municipal Airport in Michigan, killing Stephen Hatch and his current wife, Kim.

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Filed under: Basketball • College basketball • Indiana • Michigan • Sports
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    I admire anybody that gutsy.
    If these crashes and injuries didn't stop Hatch, they will make him stronger.

    May 1, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Commerical Pilot

      Just like they made all his family members stronger.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jorgath

    "stalled due to inadequate airspeed" that's what an airplane stalling MEANS, that your airspeed wasn't enough to give you lift.

    But nitpick aside, good for this kid.

    May 1, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • crazyvermont

      Final report came out on crash just last week and accident was ruled pilot error(whatever the heck that means). He was supposedly an very experienced pilot

      May 1, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • nwb

      Airspeed doesn't need to be low for an aerodynamic stall to occur. Look up "accelerated stall".

      May 2, 2012 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Linda

      eh, wrong. further nitpick: inadequate airspeed is NOT cause of aerodynamic stall. Surpassing the critical angle-of-attack is.

      May 2, 2012 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
  3. crazyvermont

    I've seen this kid play numerous times and he's an incredible athlete and young man. Hopefully, he can make it back to playing condition again but I have doubts based on what I saw this past year. Although he didn't play, Austin sat on bench with team and it appeared he had trouble even focusing on the game........perhaps, another year of healing

    May 1, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. display name

    Yea... it will make it stronger until the bruise in his brain takes him out, or the mental and emotional trauma of losing his family in two similar accidents.

    Yea, it will make it stronnger, until it kills him.

    May 1, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. nolongerarepublican

    His father was a really bad pilot.

    May 1, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Buster

    Good for him! He has a goal and he is going to work at it and I am sure everyone is routing for him. Who knows; maybe there is a reason he keeps surviving these plane crashes – and it might be bigger than basketball.

    May 1, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JT

    Doctors should not be allowed to pilot their own aircraft.

    May 1, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. wendyreames

    Three cheers for coach Beilein and the University of Michigan, I hope they give him a scholarship even if he can't play ball.

    May 1, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. dodo bird watcher

    If his first crash was due to mechanical error then I could see him flying again on his own. For it to be his fault I am shocked he had the mindset to let anyone fly with him other than a flight instructor.

    May 2, 2012 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  10. beerob

    the wright brothers wouldve been like "eff that ish"

    May 2, 2012 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  11. chrissy

    I would say this young man has several guardian angels! And god bless coach Beilein, U of M is an awesome school and my alma mater, he will be treated well there!

    May 2, 2012 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
  12. raven

    I don't even know what to say. Congratulations?

    May 2, 2012 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |
  13. alanjay1

    Unreal. Wow, I feel for this kid, losing his whole immediate family

    May 2, 2012 at 1:57 am | Report abuse |
  14. Hugo Stiglitz

    A federal report into the 2003 crash found inaccurate pre-flight planning resulted in the plane not having enough fuel.
    The National Transportation Safety Board also ruled that a utility pole the airplane hit during its forced landing, a low ceiling and dark night also contributed to the crash.

    This dude had no business flying. He didn't think pilot error was the problem in the first crash despite NTSB's report. I can't comprehend how he had the nerve to fly again after killing his family once. His son doesn't deserve this but I have a hard time feeling sorry for the father.

    May 2, 2012 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
    • mojo888

      I totally agree with you - Reading the first two paragraphs gave me chills... I cannot believe his father could be that negligent and how in the world was he allowed to have a license to fly after the first crash and investigation... ??? Unbelievable – my prayers will go out to the kid and his surviving family members...

      May 2, 2012 at 3:52 am | Report abuse |
  15. null

    Crashed a bonanza aka the doctor killer...plane is notoriously well known for horrible CG travel as you burn fuel...completely changes the flight characteristics. Regardless, kid has huge gargoons for going up a second time.

    May 2, 2012 at 4:57 am | Report abuse |
    • SAToday

      My husband is a pilot and we owned a v-tailed bonanza- he was also a physician. He is a very good pilot and very cautious but it always made me nervous that the v-tailed was nicknamed "the doctor killer"! We moved on to a larger plane and I was really glad. Glad this young man has his scholarship – too bad he has lost his whole family.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
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