Friends of plane crash survivor: 'We never gave up hope'

The sole survivor of the plane crash in Central Washington spent the majority of the day sleeping while being treated for severe dehydration, exhaustion, and trauma.

BREWSTER, Wash. — Friends of the 16-year-old who spent two days in the woods after a plane crash in the Cascades, say "what happened is a miracle." Autumn Veatch left the hospital on Tuesday night.

Quick Facts:

  • Plane crash survivor Autum Veatch walked out of woods Monday afternoon
  • Veatch spent two days hiking down a drainage basin of steep Cascade mountainside
  • Veatch is severely dehydrated, exhausted and may have muscular trauma
  • Search for downed plane to continue Tuesday

Doctor James Wallace at the Brewster hospital oversees Autumn's care, and he says she is recovering "tremendously well."

In a news conference, friends as well as doctor Wallace spoke highly of Autumn overcoming astounding danger. However, Wallace said she made the long treacherous trek down the mountain just in time because she could have been overcome by dehydration.

“Yes, it’s a miracle,” David Veatch said. “We had, I don’t know how many people say they’re praying for her on Facebook. Yes, I believe it works. Now, if I can convince her to come to church with me,” he said.

Friends say they never gave up hope, but they left many questions about Autumn's journey unanswered, saying that was her story to tell.

David Veatch, Autumn’s father, told KIRO 7 she was in “amazing physical shape,” considering the physical and emotional trauma she had endured.

“She’s a teenager, she’s young, she’s strong,” Veatch said. “She has some amazing gifts.”

Veatch talked to KIRO 7 outside the hospital Tuesday afternoon with a McDonald's bag in his hand, saying that's the food she was requesting.

Rick LeDuc, who owns a general Store in Mazama, Washington, says when Autumn walked through the door at 3 p.m. Monday she had cuts and scrapes, and an unbelievable story.

“She said she'd been through a traumatic experience, and a crash, and had been out for the past two days," he said.

LeDuc says a driver spotted her walking along Highway 20 near the Easy Pass trailhead. She told the driver she'd spent two days hiking down a drainage basin of the dangerously steep rugged mountainside.

She said a plane owned by her step-grandparents, 62-year-old Leland bowman and his 63-year-old wife Sharon, suddenly crashed into the side of the Cascade Mountains two days before.

In a 911 call, Autumn told the dispatcher she was "the only one that made it out."

"It's a miracle." 911 calls were just released -- from when a teen who survived a plane crash and spent two days in the woods -- made it to a Mazama store. PHOTOS >> >>“She’s a teenager, she’s young, she’s strong,” her father said. “She has some amazing gifts.”

Posted by KIRO 7 Eyewitness News on Tuesday, July 14, 2015

“They were over the mountains, got into some clouds, and the last she remembers, it was mountains coming up very quickly and the rest is kind of a blur, it sounds like," said LeDuc.

LeDuc said Veatch didn't elaborate on the condition of her grandparents after the crash, only saying she had to leave them and the wreckage to find help. But when she spoke with a 911 dispatcher she said she was the only survivor of the crash.

After her 48 hour treacherous rocky trek, LeDuc said she was clearly dehydrated and exhausted.

“She was given something to drink, and a sandwich actually to eat, she hadn't eaten in two days," said LeDuc.

LeDuc said he never would have guessed her harrowing story, just by looking at her.

“She looked like she'd been through an ordeal, but considering the time she had been out and, what had happened to her she looked remarkably good, considering."

David Veatch told KIRO 7 one of Autumn's survival tactics came from watching reality survivor shows.

She told her father she remembered to follow where water drains down the mountainside to find a clear path to the bottom.  It turns out the highway ran right next to the trailhead.

TV shows helped her survive 

Friend Amber Shockey said on the phone that Autumn credited her dad for her survival, specifically, his insistence on certain shows.

“Her dad said, ‘Isn't it great I made you watch all those survival shows with me?’ and she was like ‘Yes, thank you,’” Amber said.

Santina Lampman said they never lost hope.

“Nobody had that feeling that she was gone,” she said. “We all just kind of kept saying-- but we don’t feel like it, we feel like she's still there somewhere.”

Search for missing plane continues

Aerial searches for the missing plane resumed Tuesday morning.

Crews in both the helicopter and fixed-wing planes focused on the area near the Easy Pass trail near Mazama in the Methow Valley, based on the route Autumn Veatch said she took from the plane.

Volunteers from the Civil Air Patrol and the American Red Cross as well as personnel from the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, NAS Whidbey Island and Snohomish County Sherriff's Office are assisting WSDOT Aviation Emergency Services with the search. An incident command has been set up in Bellingham, near the airport.

On Tuesday evening, crews continued their search of the missing plane.

Friends relieved to her Autumn's voice

Friends of the Bellingham teen said they were relieved to hear Autumn's voice on Monday afternoon.

“I’m just happy she’s safe,” Amber said through tears.

She, Savannah Lampman, and Trevor Lampman all talked to her on speaker phone Monday afternoon after Autumn called her father from an ambulance heading to the hospital in Brewster.

“Honestly, I wish I could be right there with her right now,” Amber said.

They said Autumn was happy she was safe and even made them laugh.

“She said she could really use McDonald's right now,” Savannah Lampman said.