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Double plane crash survivor Austin Hatch talks return to basketball

Loyola High School basketball player Austin Hatch, who has survived two plane crashes, tells his story.
November 20, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Few people survive a plane crash. Loyola High School basketball player Austin Hatch has survived two. The rest of his immediate family was not as fortunate. Despite the mental and physical pain, Hatch has managed to reach a life-long dream.

Hatch's uncle and grandparents represent most of the family he has left. His is the story of survival through unimaginable tragedy.

"The pain from that never goes away. It's going to be something that's going to be with me for the rest of my life," said Hatch.

The Loyola High School senior was one of the top basketball prospects in the country three years ago, averaging 23 points a game as a sophomore in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Just days after accepting a scholarship offer from the University of Michigan in June 2011, Hatch was flying with his pilot father and stepmother to the family's summer home in Michigan when their small plane crashed into a garage. His father and stepmother were killed. Hatch had a severe head injury and punctured lung. He spent eight weeks in a medically induced coma.

"Waking up from the coma, I wasn't aware of things. I woke up, I had no idea where I was, I had no idea what year it was or anything. It was almost like I was just born," said Hatch. "I had to deal with the loss of my best friend, mentor, teacher, coach and fan, but the same man that was also my father."

Eight years earlier, flying back to Indiana from the same summer home, Hatch survived another plane crash. His father also survived, but Hatch lost his mother, brother and sister.

"Over time, the way I cope with my loss is going to change. I'm not sure there's anyone who's been through and survived two plane crashes. I'm not saying that in any way other than to mean I think God has had his hand on me," said Hatch.

Hatch has not played competitive basketball since the second plane crash in 2011. This summer, he moved to Southern California to live with his uncle and to play his senior season at Loyola High School after being given an extra year.

"My recovery has been nothing short of a miracle. From when I was in a wheelchair, I told people I was going to play basketball. Being in a wheelchair and hearing a kid talk about playing basketball seems, the chances seem remote, but I said I'm going to get there," said Hatch.

Hatch won't be ready to play in Loyola's season opener on Dec. 2. Still, Michigan honored its scholarship offer. Last week, Hatch signed his letter of intent to play for the school his mom attended and where his dad once worked.


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