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‘Remarkable’ girl who survived plane crash, 2 days in wilderness goes home

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BREWSTER, Wash. -- The 16-year-old girl who survived a plane crash and two days in the wilderness in north-central Washington was released from the hospital Tuesday night so she could return home to recuperate.

Autumn Veatch did not speak publicly, but her friends and the doctor who had cared for her spoke to reporters outside the hospital.

Autumn went through "quite an ordeal," Dr. James Wallace said outside Three Rivers Hospital in Brewster shortly before her release. "Autumn's doing very well."

He said the teenage girl was severely dehydrated when she found her way to Highway 20 Monday and flagged down a driver, who took her to store to call authorities.

In addition to the dehydration, she was "extremely exhausted" and had minor burn injuries and bruises from the plane crash, Wallace said.

Autumn Veatch asked her dad to bring her chicken nuggets in the hospital Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of friends of Autumn)

Autumn Veatch asked her dad to bring her chicken nuggets in the hospital Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of friends of Autumn)

She had been flying with her grandparents Saturday in a small, private plane when  The aircraft was enroute from Kalispell, Montana, to Lynden, Washington, when it crashed in a mountainous region of north-central Washington.

Her grandparents were believed killed in the crash.

Late Tuesday night, the Washington Department of Transportation said search crews had found wreckage "in the general area" of where Autumn emerged from the woods near Mazama, Wash., but that crews had not been able to reach the wreckage or identify it. The crews will attempt to reach it Wednesday.

Okanaogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers recounted the teen's story of survival in more detail.

“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,” Rogers said.

Autumn’s father, David Veatch, of Bellingham, Wash., said that his daughter tried to help her grandparents — Leland and Sharon Bowman — out of the plane, but couldn’t.

He said she credited her watching of survival shows on TV with her ability to make it out alive.

Wallace said of Autumn's time in the wilderness: "I think she made wise decisions about what to eat and not eat."

He said she was also able to drink a little water from a natural source.

"Her story is remarkable," the doctor said.

LISTEN: Veatch speaks to 911 operators 

Veatch described the crash.

"So tell me exactly what happened," the dispatcher told the girl, according to a transcript of the call.

"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," Autumn said calmly and in a low voice.

"Made it out from the collision?"

"From the plane," she said.

"Or survived?"

"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."

A Go Fund Me page has been set up on behalf of Autumn. It's titled "Autumn Veatch; The Girl Who Lived." Click here if you'd like to donate to help with her medical expenses.

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