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. Grumpster

    Quite surprised he didn't end up on an island with a smoke monster and a guy named Jacob.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • HPNIII

      No way I'm getting on the same airplane with this guy.

      May 2, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. WilliamsJ32

    At least he's not following his father's footsteps at attempting to fly planes.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Becool

    survived 2 plane crash? forget bball, try the lottery, talk about hitting the big one.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. jane

    His father should not have been piloting that aircraft! He practically killed his entire family. Best wishes to the son

    May 2, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. miriam

    I'm so happy he gets to keep his scholarship. Becool, you're right!

    May 2, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Rustydog

    Could it be that the Almighty is telling this young man to only fly on commercial airlines with experienced pilots? This is such a tragic story, and I wish him a long life.

    May 2, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Meghan

    How the hell was this kid's father allowed to fly again? (Not to mention why would he want to, after killing his wife and two children). And really, would you ever fly with a pilot who had crashed and killed passengers before?

    May 2, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. faith35

    I have followed this young man's story since the first crash. I pray for him to have only the best life until he meets his family again. I am so thrilled Michigan's coach is keeping him on the team with a full scholarship. Coach Beilein is setting a fabulous example of how a true man lives his life, honoring what is truly imortant. Being a diehard Indiana fan, rooting for Michigan when Austin gets there will not be easy, but I will definitely be rooting for him.

    May 2, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Desert Resident

      faith35: Being a "diehard" fan of Austin seems an ironic comment to make.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
  9. twirtzy

    The time to blame the father has since passed. This is an article about the son, his recovery from such a tragic set of events, and his future.

    May 2, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. alumette

    He got lucky twice...let's see if football gives him another chance to keep his brain intact....Challenge ! Good luck dude.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • your_kiddin_me_right

      football? better get that brain checked your-dog-gone-self. heh

      May 3, 2012 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
    • happydave

      Football, I am not sure..... He happens to be a 6'6" BASKETBALL player however.....

      May 3, 2012 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
  11. crazyvermont

    love this kids determination but if what I saw of him at game this year is any indication, he's going to have tough time geting back to elite status. Although not playing, Austin sat on bench with team mates and from what I saw, had trouble even focusing on the game staring up at ceiling, then to side etc. It was incredibly sad after watching him play at his best

    May 2, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Marine5484

    Yep I see this guy on a plane...and I'm getting off. Already pushed my luck with a 1st SGT that survived three helo crashes.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Robert Hirsch

    Do you use an amateur dentist? Don't fly with an amateur pilot either. When you do you are 47 times more likely to be in an accident than if you're on a scheduled flight! Flying safer than driving? Only on an jet airliner flown by an airline! CNN! Expose this lie, told countless times every day and save lives!

    May 3, 2012 at 7:51 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Jason Viper

    The father sounds like an incompetent pilot, and he can thank himself-wherever he is, for killing most of his family. The thing about those little airplanes is that they are very stable. Cut the engine and they still generate enough lift to keep you airborne for quite some time. I don't know the specifics of either crash, but 'ol pops doesn't sound too well versed in flight planning or emergency procedures.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Fupped Duck

    Fupped Duck

    May 3, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse | Reply
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