Plane crash survivor Austin Hatch is either the luckiest teenager on the planet or the unluckiest. The 16-year-old was involved in the second crash in his life, and despite swelling on his brain, doctors are hopeful he will survive. That should make him lucky, right?
But the high school basketball player lost his dad and stepmother in the crash last Friday. And in the first crash back in 2003, the first crash that Austin survived at just 8 years old, he lost his mom, brother Ian, and sister Lindsay. So today, he's alive, but he's now an orphan. As a mom, as a human being, my heart goes out to him.
It's one of those stories that's left me sitting here today, just reeling. When you tell someone you're afraid of flying, they always trot out the same statistic about how much safer it is to fly than it is to get in a car. The actual odds of being killed in a plane crash are 1 in 11 million annually (compared to 1 in 5,000 for a car crash).
So when Austin Hatch went through the horror of losing his mom and siblings in 2003, they had to think it was a freak occurrence. An awful one, but a freak occurrence. There are folks who would refuse to get back on a plane. Some people would be terrified. I remember going through a period as a young teen when I refused to sleep in the back end of my house, the area closest to the train tracks, because I was afraid that the train would suddenly derail. Instead I slept at the front of the house that summer, and every time I heard the whistle of the train, I'd run outside, as far from the tracks as possible. Statistics mean nothing. Fear is just plain irrational.
But you can't live life in fear; you have to get back on the horse. And based on all the statistics, he did. Perhaps it helped that his dad is a pilot. Dr. Stephen Hatch was at the controls of the small aircraft that crashed in 2003 and again at the controls of the plane that crashed on Friday, this time into a garage when the family was flying to its summer home.
Austin Hatch did everything right. He didn't listen to statistics. He got back on the horse, or rather, in the plane. And then life played an evil trick. His family was the 1 in 11 million to be hit by tragedy. And then it happened again.
And yet, Austin wasn't just in the plane for two crashes. He didn't just lose his family twice. He survived two plane crashes. He's lost a lot, some would say everything. But he hasn't let fear rule his life so far. He's just a kid, but he's already ahead of a lot of us in life. Here's hoping he'll go on to take his scholarship from the University of Michigan for basketball, and that he'll continue to live life to the fullest.
How does this story hit you? Do you think you could recover from something like this?
Image via Cristian Ghe/Flickr