The odds of any human being in a plane crash is almost incalculably small. Based on the last time there was a commercial American plane crash that cost citizen lives (2006), the specific likelihood was approximately 1-in-15,900,000. Without a commercial crash since, those odds have grown much longer. Given that, the chances that a top high school athlete would be involved in a tragic crash are even longer, considering the fact that scholastic athletes make up just a small part of American passengers.
Those chances make the tragedy that has befallen Fort Wayne (Ind.) Canterbury School rising junior Austin Hatch all the more staggering. On Friday night, Hatch was involved in a plane crash that took the life of his father and stepmother when the family was en route to its summer vacation home in Michigan. The University Michigan basketball recruit has been kept in a medically induced coma ever since, with hope that he might be brought out of at some point on Monday.
The fact that Hatch survived the crash of his father's single-engine plane is remarkable, but that's just a small part of what makes Hatch's tragic story all the more inspiring. That's because this is actually the second plane crash he's survived. In 2003, the Hatch family was traveling in a similar single-engine plane that crashed on the way back from the Michigan vacation home the trio were traveling to on Saturday. Hatch lost his mother and two siblings during the Hatch family's first crash.
Despite the deadly injuries that befell Hatch's father and stepmother during Friday night's crash, doctor's are reportedly optimistic that Austin Hatch will make a complete recovery.
"Everyone at this point remains very hopeful," Hatch family relative Jason Bowersock told the Associated Press. "All the doctors have been very positive and hopeful given his age and strength. All his other signs are great."
Doctors also said that while Hatch has had some bruising on the brain, all structural signs were universally positive, giving hope for (potentially) a full recovery.
That's a relief not only to Hatch's extended family, but also to the University of Michigan, the basketball program of which Hatch committed to just days before the fatal flight. Both of Hatch's parents were Michigan alums, a factor which encouraged him to commit to his "dream school" despite being some two years away from graduation.
While hopes are high that Hatch will still be able to continue on that course, all seem to understand that he will have to go through a profound grieving period before he can arrive there.
"They're all gone," Hatch's basketball coach at Canterbury School, Dan Kline, told the AP. "He's the only one left. What's the chance of that happening? A million to one, if that. It's just unbelievable.
"He's just a strong guy, a strong kid. That's what['s] saving him right now."