Plane Crash Survivor Signs With Michigan
ANN ARBOR (WWJ/AP) – A high school basketball standout who survived a plane crash in Michigan in 2011 that killed his father and stepmother has signed a letter of intent with the Michigan Wolverines.
Austin Hatch averaged 23 points as a sophomore at Canterbury High School in Indiana. He committed to play at Michigan shortly before the plane crash.
Hatch was 16-years-old when he suffered a serious head injury, punctured lung and rib injuries in the June 24, 2011 crash. His father was flying when the plane struck a garage in a neighborhood near the Charlevoix Municipal Airport. The family had been on their way to their summer home on Walloon Lake in Michigan’s northwestern Lower Peninsula.
The National Transportation Safety Board said in a report that the crash that killed Hatch’s father, Stephen, and his stepmother, Kim, occurred after the single-engine plane stalled because of inadequate air speed. The report said Stephen Hatch failed to follow the proper protocol.
Following the crash, Hatch was in a medically induced coma for weeks before returning to Fort Wayne. He did not play basketball in the immediate aftermath of the crash.
It was the second plane crash that Hatch survived. He and his father lived through a 2003 crash that killed Hatch’s mother and two siblings. His father was flying then, too. A 2005 federal report found inaccurate preflight planning resulted in the plane not having enough fuel.
His family said this August that Hatch would finish high school at Loyola High in the Los Angeles area.
“We are excited to have him back and playing basketball again,” Michigan coach John Beilein said in a statement Thursday. “We expect Austin to be an important part of Michigan basketball.”
Kameron Chatman, D.J. Wilson and Ricky Doyle also signed with the Wolverines.
“I love the potential of this recruiting class,” Beilein said. “They are outstanding young men who love the game and all bring something different to our program.”
The 6-foot-7 Chatman is ranked 29th in this class by Rivals.com. He is currently a senior at Columbia Christian High School in Portland, Ore. Chatman did not play varsity basketball during his junior season after being ruled ineligible following a transfer to Long Beach (Calif.) Poly. Before transferring to Poly, he played two seasons at Jefferson High in Portland.
“Kam has a unique ability to play either guard or forward because he is both an excellent rebounder and passer,” Beilein said. “His versatility and ability to see the floor gives him the potential of being an excellent playmaker, scorer and defender for us at many different positions.”
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