11-year-old sole survivor of plane crash saved by father's last 'bear hug'

The 11-year-old sole survivor of a plane crash was saved by her father's last hug, her mother believes.

"Her last memory is her dad just grabbed her and held her really, really tight," Christie Perdue told ABC News transportation correspondent Gio Benitez about her daughter, Laney.


Perdue explained that Laney suffered injuries only on one side of her body, and the other side was protected by one of her father's "big, bear hugs."

She also shared that Laney is now recovering at the children's hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is talking again, and on Sunday, she stood up.

Laney "is such a trouper," Perdue said. "She has five broken bones all over the place, but she is amazing and she's inspiring."

The commuter plane carrying Laney, her father and three others crashed Saturday at the Welke Airport on Beaver Island in the far northern part of Lake Michigan.

The Island Airways aircraft was attempting to land at the Welke Airport after departing from Charlevoix, Michigan, about 32 miles away, according to a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).


A helicopter crew from the Coast Guard Great Lakes was training in the area at the time and responded to an emergency call from the island.

They flew Laney, who was critically injured, and a male adult, who initially survived the crash, to McLaren Northern Michigan Hospital in Petoskey, Coast Guard officials said. The male victim was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

The helicopter crew performed chest compressions on Laney en route to the children's hospital, the Coast Guard Great Lakes said in a tweet.

It's "such a tragedy and such a miracle," Perdue said about her daughter surviving, despite the fact that her husband, Mike, a realtor from Gaylord, Michigan, did not.

The cause of the crash is under investigation by the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board.
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