‘I was the only one who made it out’: 911 tapes of 16-year-old who survived crash released
MAZAMA, Wash. — The 16-year-old girl who survived a plane crash in Central Washington sounded dazed but coherent in 911 tapes released Tuesday of the girl’s first interaction with rescuers.
Autumn Veatch was flying with her grandparents Saturday in a small, private plane. The aircraft left Montana, but never arrived where it was headed — Lynden, Washington.
Veatch was spotted at a trailhead off Highway 20 Monday afternoon and taken to a local store in Mazama, Washington. There, those who picked her up called 911. After some time discussing between dispatchers and rescuers, Veatch got onto the phone.
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.
“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.”
The girl said she suffered burns and multiple bruises. She was taken to a local hospital.
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, said that his daughter tried to help her grandparents — Leland and Sharon Bowman — out of the plane, but couldn’t. She waited for rescuers near the crash site for about a day, crying, the Bellingham Herald reported.
David arrived at the hospital Tuesday morning, holding a bag of McDonald's breakfast for his daughter. He said he hoped she would be out of the hospital soon, but that Autumn was still very sore.
Autumn was dehydrated and developed rhabdomyolysis, a muscle disorder, during her ordeal, but suffered no life-threatening injuries, said Scott Graham, chief executive of Three Rivers Hospital. Rhabdomyolysis is often caused by an injury that damages skeletal muscle, according to the National Library of Medicine. Fibers from the damaged muscle enter the bloodstream and can cause kidney damage.
Lt. Col. Jeffrey Lustick of the Civil Air Patrol told Q13 FOX News the searchers were "overjoyed" when they learned Autumn had survived.
"It's a miracle when you have a plane crash of this type," he said. "It's a rarity to have someone come out of this and be able to walk out of a crash scene."
Crews are still looking for the plane and the girl's grandparents. The mountainous terrain is complicating the search, but information from Autumn may help first responders find the crash site.