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Survivor of two plane crashes, Austin Hatch talks about life and future

Austin Hatch being interviewed in 2011 about his decision to commit to the University of Michigan.
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Austin Hatch being interviewed in 2011 about his decision to commit to the University of Michigan.

At age 16, Austin Hatch from Ft. Wayne, Indiana was looking forward to a bright future as a University of Michigan basketball recruit.

Here he is talking about his decision to commit to the school:


Nine days after this video was posted Austin Hatch was in a plane crash near Charlevoix, Michigan that killed his father, his stepmother, and a family dog.

Austin survived, as did a second family dog.

The small plane was being piloted by his father, Dr. Stephen Hatch, an anesthesiologist from Indiana. A recent NTSB report found the plane stalled due to inadequate airspeed.

Tragically, this was the second time Austin Hatch and his father had been in a plane crash.

When Austin was eight, his father was piloting a plane when it crashed killing Austin's mother, his older sister, and his younger brother.

After the crash last summer, Hatch suffered from a serious head injury and he's been slowly recovering ever since.

But despite everything he's been through, Hatch says he still plans to play basketball for the University of Michigan.

And coach John Beilein is holding a spot for him.

Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press interviewed Hatch. In the interview, Hatch told Snyder how supportive coach Beilein has been:

"He is one of the best guys that I know, he's unbelievable," Hatch said. "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. It's going to take a lot of work. He's still supportive of me and everything. It's pretty cool. "I'm still going on a full basketball scholarship. 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."

Hatch told Snyder that his brain injury has made his speech slower, and that he feels like his memory and knowledge are still intact, "it just takes me a little more work to access it."

On how he's coping, it's as expected. Hatch said there are ups and downs:

"The most difficult thing is just missing my biological family, because I'm the only one left," he said, in a bit of a slower speech pattern than before the crash but still extremely sharp. "I wish there was an instructional manual in how to deal with this kind of loss."

Hatch said his dad's dad, his grandfather Jim Hatch, is helping him recover.

In the comments section of the Free Press article, one poster, Scott Stites, says his family has known Austin for many years:

His athletic abilities, although impressive, pale in comparison to his inner strength, attitude and will to succeed. Austin came by all of this honestly. His father Steve was a great man/father that imparted these virtues in Austin at an early age...

There will be a lot of people rooting for Austin Hatch, regardless of whether he makes it back to the basketball court.

Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.