A teenage girl who survived a small-plane crash in the craggy,
thickly forested mountains of north-central Washington state emerged
from the wilderness after hiking “for a couple of days” and was picked
up by a motorist who drove her to safety, authorities said Monday. But
the fate of her two step-grandparents, who were also on board, remained
Family members alerted authorities after the Beech A-35
failed to complete its flight from Kalispell, Montana, to Lynden,
Washington state, on Saturday afternoon. Rescuers narrowed down a search
area based on cellphone data and typical flight patterns. But there was
no sign of the aircraft or its occupants until Autumn Veatch, 16,
followed a trail to Highway 20, near the east entrance to North Cascades
A motorist picked her up Monday afternoon and
drove her 30 miles (48 kilometers) east to a general store in Mazama,
where employees called the emergency dispatcher. The Aero Methow Rescue
Service sent a paramedic team to check her out before she was taken to a
hospital in Brewster for treatment of what appeared to be minor
injuries, said Cindy Button, director of services at the organization.
“Our initial information is she sustained no
life-threatening injuries and is somewhat dehydrated due to being out in
the elements,” said Scott Graham, chief executive officer Three Rivers
Hospital. The teen was being evaluated Monday evening, he said.
County Sheriff Frank Rogers said Monday afternoon that the girl had
been “walking for a couple of days.” He declined to comment on the
status of the other two people aboard the plane.
the manager at the Mazama Store, said the girl and a motorist came in
Monday afternoon, saying she had been in a plane crash. “She was
obviously pretty traumatized,” Lockwood said.
Veatch’s survival, but they immediately returned their focus to finding
the wreckage, aided by Veatch’s description of the crash site, said Lt.
Col. Jeffrey Lustick, of the Civil Air Patrol. Lustick said he could
not confirm any details about the condition of the grandparents, Leland
and Sharon Bowman of Marion, Montana.
“We’re so happy about
this,” Lustick said. “I’ve spent 30 years in the Civil Air Patrol and in
search-and-rescue. Moments of joy like this can be hard to find.”
said he had spoken with Veatch’s father, who said his daughter told him
the plane crashed and caught fire after flying into a bank of clouds.
She remained at the crash site for a day before deciding to hike down,
eventually finding a trail and following it to the trailhead on Highway
Five aircraft equipped with special radios for detecting the
missing plane’s emergency-locator transmitter searched the mountains
Monday, along with ground crews, officials said. The planes halted their
search for the night by 8 p.m. while a couple of Navy helicopters from
the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station continued to sweep the area, said
Barbara LaBoe, a state Transportation Department spokeswoman.
plane crossed the Idaho-Washington border about 2:20 p.m. PDT Saturday,
but it dropped off the radar near Omak, Washington state, about an hour
later, transportation officials said. The last phone signal from one of
the plane’s occupants was detected around 3:50 p.m.
The Civil Air Patrol’s Cell Phone Forensics and Radar Analysis teams were analyzing clues left by the phones that were on board.
grids contain some of the toughest mountainous terrain in the state,”
Civil Air Patrol spokeswoman Julie DeBardelaben said.