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Doctors keep survivor in induced coma

Age, strength in teen's favor after Michigan plane tragedy

A. Hatch

A Canterbury High School basketball star who suffered a serious head injury in a plane crash Friday in northwest Michigan remained in a medically induced coma Sunday, with hospital staff monitoring the pressure on his brain, his coach, Dan Kline, said.

Austin Hatch, 16, was in a small, single-engine plane when it slammed into a garage in a neighborhood near the Charlevoix (Mich.) Municipal Airport.

His father and stepmother, Stephen and Kim Hatch, were also aboard the plane but did not survive. The three had taken off from Fort Wayne’s Smith Field.

Along with a head injury, Kline said, Hatch suffered a punctured lung and fractures to his ribs and collarbone.

A relative, Jason Bowersock of Fort Wayne, told The Associated Press on Sunday evening that doctors planned to begin taking Hatch off of the coma-inducing drugs this afternoon, while closely monitoring his neurological signs as he regains consciousness.

“Everyone at this point remains very hopeful. All the doctors have been very positive and hopeful given his age and strength. All his other signs are great,” he said.

Bowersock, who is married to the eldest of Kim Hatch’s three children, Maria, said Stephen Hatch’s parents and siblings and other relatives will be staying close to Hatch’s bedside in the coming days.

Kline said he plans to travel this morning to visit Hatch at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, hoping to be there when Hatch wakes up.

Kline said he learned about Hatch’s condition from Stephen Hatch’s cousin, who is an anesthesiologist and has been at the hospital with Hatch.

While both of Hatch’s parents, along with his stepmother, are now deceased, Bowersock said it’s too early for relatives to speculate on the teen’s future, including where he will live. But he said that has been on their minds.

“No one has even breathed a word of discussing where Austin will reside. He’s a very mature, bright 16-year-old kid and he has a great future ahead of him. And he’ll certainly have some thoughts on that, too,” Bowersock said. “We’ve just focused right now on Austin getting well.”

The plane was headed for Boyne Falls, Mich., but was diverted to Charlevoix for an unknown reason, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said Saturday.

Boyne Falls is about 30 miles southeast of Charlevoix, a resort town on Lake Michigan.

Stephen Hatch’s medical practice partner, Dr. David Bojrab, said Hatch, 46, his wife and son were headed for Walloon Lake, where the family has a summer home.

The hospital listed Austin Hatch in critical condition Saturday. On Sunday, his CaringBridge website said he was in “critical but stable condition.”

Hatch, a junior, accepted a basketball scholarship offer this month to play at the University of Michigan.

He and his father survived a 2003 plane crash that killed Austin’s mother, Julie, and a sister and brother.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

aingersoll@jg.net

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