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Police and fire


Hatch son healing at home after air tragedy

June crash in Michigan killed father, stepmom


Austin Hatch, a prep basketball star from Fort Wayne, has recovered enough to come home from the hospital after being critically injured in a June plane crash that killed his father and stepmother.

“We are extremely thankful and relieved that Austin is home with us,” Hatch’s family said Sunday in an emailed statement.

The family, however, did not say where “home” will be for Hatch, who had been living in Fort Wayne with his father and stepmother, Dr. Stephen and Kim Hatch.

The crash of his father’s small, single-engine plane left Hatch with a serious head injury, a punctured lung and fractures to his ribs and collarbone. According to Hatch’s family, he has recovered much since then, but they tempered expectations.

“While Austin has made great improvements, he still has obstacles to overcome as he continues to heal, grieve and acclimate to life after tragedy,” the statement said.

In the statement, the family thanked Hatch’s supporters in Fort Wayne and around the country.

The family also had good words for the teen’s caregivers at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, Mich., and at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

“Your excellent care, compassion and support have made a difference in all of our lives and in Austin’s recovery,” the statement said.

Hatch’s family asked that the news media and others respect his privacy, saying that he is not ready to be interviewed.

In the more than three months Hatch was hospitalized, news on his condition was posted on a website dedicated to updating supporters on his progress.

On Sunday, access to his page, which was viewed tens of thousands of times, had been restricted.

On July 1, a post on the website said doctors had started the process of waking up Hatch, who had been put into a medically induced coma after the crash. More recent posts said he had been going outside for fresh air, taking part in aquatic therapy and talking on the phone with friends.

Hatch, a Canterbury High School junior who was a standout post player, had orally committed to the University of Michigan to play basketball a little more than a week before the crash.

On June 24, Hatch, his father and stepmother took off from Fort Wayne’s Smith Field and were headed for the family’s summer home near the town of Boyne Falls in northern Michigan. About 30 miles northwest of Boyne Falls, the plane slammed into a garage in a neighborhood near the Charlevoix (Mich.) Municipal Airport.

The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary investigation report, which said Stephen Hatch was attempting an instrument approach to the Charlevoix airport. The preliminary report did not give a cause of the crash.

A final and more thorough report isn’t expected for months.

In 2003, Hatch and his father, an anesthesiologist and aviation enthusiast, survived a plane crash in Wells County that killed Hatch’s mother, Julie, and a sister and brother. Investigators determined a lack of fuel caused that crash, a finding Stephen Hatch disagreed with, according to his attorney at the time.