Double plane crash survivor Austin Hatch will finish prep career in California

Plane crash survivor Austin Hatch will move from Indiana to California — USA Today
Plane crash survivor Austin Hatch will move from Indiana to California — USA Today

One of the nation’s most high profile basketball prospects has decided to leave his hometown to finish his high school career on the other side of the country. That scenario is not particularly unique. What is different about the case of Austin Hatch is that the rising senior spent the past year recovering from the second plane crash he has survived and rebuilding his strength for an emotional return to the court.

Weeks away from the beginning of his final high school season, Hatch, an Indiana native, has announced that he is moving to Southern California, where he will live with extended relatives in Pasadena and play for regional powerhouse Los Angeles (Ca.) Loyola High.

Hatch made the announcement about his future on Twitter, where he posted a series of notes composed on his iPhone notebook.

Hatch has lived both a tragic and remarkably fortunate life. He was born to a family of means and raised in Fort Wayne, Ind. He developed a prodigious athletic talent and emerged as one of the most promising basketball players of his age. Everything was going his way.

Then the unthinkable happened: In the span of eight years, Hatch survived not one, but two airplane crashes. His family was not as lucky, with his mother and two siblings dying in the first crash and his stepmother and father -- who was the pilot during both crashes -- perishing during the second crash.

Two years later, Hatch has completed a dramatic rehabilitation process and is now set to begin playing basketball again. He has committed to play collegiately at the University of Michigan and the Wolverines remain very optimistic about his future, despite the significant injuries he suffered in the crash.

As one might expect, Hatch’s decision to move has been met by surprise and some disappointment in his hometown, where the hoops star’s inspiring story of resilience had made him an even larger local icon than he had been when he starred for Fort Wayne (Ind.) Canterbury School.

Yet it’s hard to fault Hatch for looking for a new start, despite the disappointment within Indiana. Anyone who has had to overcome an event as tragic as a plane crash can attest to how it can profoundly change their outlook on life. Losing one’s entire nuclear family in two crashes would shake even the strongest person to their core.

It’s only natural that Hatch search to himself while he simultaneously works to regain the physical fitness that set him apart from his teenage contemporaries. No matter what he achieves in California, there can be little question that his success will be universally cheered, not least from the halls of Canterbury School itself.

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