Autumn Veatch is an amazing 16-year-old girl who survived a small plane crash in the mountains of north-central Washington State and then hiked through thick forest to reach safety. Searchers were still looking for the plane wreckage and her two step-grandparents Leland and Sharon Bowman, who were also on board.
There was no official word on the status of the two step-grandparents. Navy helicopters searched for the wreckage until late Monday night.
Barbara LaBoe, a Washington state Transportation Department spokeswoman says that the search will resume Tuesday if the weather is permitting.
On Saturday afternoon the Beech A-35 left Kalispell, Montana, and headed for Lynden, Washington. According to Federal Aviation Administration records Leland Bowman was issued a private pilot license in 2011, and the plane, manufactured in 1949, was registered to him as well.
Transportation officials say that the crashed plane crossed the Idaho-Washington border about 2:20 p.m. PDT Saturday, but it dropped off the radar about an hour later near Omak, Washington. The plane apparently crashed and caught fire after flying into a bank of clouds.
Autumn stayed at the crash site for a day before deciding to hike down, and eventually finding a trail that led her to Highway 20. Even though rescuers were narrowing down the search area by using cellphone data and typical flight patterns there was still no sign of the aircraft or its occupants until the teen followed the trail.
A motorist picked up the 16 year old girl and drove her 30 miles east to a store in Mazama, where employees called 911. The Aero Methow Rescue Service sent a paramedic team to check her out before she was taken to the Brewster hospital.
Autumns father David Veatch of Bellingham, told reporters outside Brewster hospital late Monday his daughter was exhausted but doing remarkably well. Autumn has no life-threatening injuries but was dehydrated and suffering from a type of treatable muscle tissue breakdown caused by excessive exercise without food or water.
Lt. Col. Jeffrey Lustick of the Civil Air Patrol, called described the rescue by saying “It’s a miracle, no question about it.”
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