Aviation experts and rescue personnel are calling it a “miracle” that 16-year-old Autumn Veatch not only survived the crash of her grandparent’s plane but was able to walk two days through the Washington wilderness until she found a trailhead and a passing motorist.
“It’s a miracle, no question about it, ” Lt. Col. Jeffrey Lustick of the Civil Air Patrol said Monday. “Moments of joy like this can be hard to find.”
Veatch said that her grandparents were killed in the crash according to a transcript of the 911 call made from a Mazama, Washington store where the motorist took the girl.
“So tell me exactly what happened,” the dispatcher told the girl, according to a transcript of the call posted by CNN.
“I was riding from Kalispell, Montana, to Bellingham, Washington, and … well, I don’t know where, but we crashed and I was the only one that made it out,” Veatch said in a low voice.
“Made it out from the collision?”
“From the plane,” she said.
“Yeah, the only one that survived.”
“Are you injured at all?”
“Yeah, I have a lot of burns on my hands, and I’m … kind of covered in bruises and scratches and stuff.”
Officials tried to tell the media they didn’t know the condition of the girl’s grandparents until the transcript was released to CNN.
“Autumn said they flew out of the clouds, and then flew into the side of a mountain. She was able to get out, and she spent the night by a river before hiking to the highway, where she was rescued,” Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said.
“It gets cold up there at night, pretty high elevations, so she survived not only the crash, then going through that. I will just tell you this from all of us here — we are just impressed with her, she’s like a kind of superhero.”
Veatch was being treated for her injuries at Three Rivers Hospital where she was listed in stable condition. Hospital officials said she was suffering mostly from exposure after spending two days in the wilderness. Veatch’s father said she was “pretty banged up.”
The hospital added she suffered from rhabdomyolysis, a muscle disorder that was likely caused by an injury from the crash.
Officials are still searching for the crash site.