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Two Dead as Teen Survives Washington Plane Crash after Days Alone in Mountains

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Washington Plane Crash
Veatch recovering in the hospital before being released to family on Tuesday. Source: KIRO

After two days alone in the wilderness, Autumn Veatch, 16 , walked out of the Easy Pass area near Mazama, Wash., in the North Cascades Monday. The Beech 35 plane carrying Veatch and her step-grandparents crashed in the rugged mountains Saturday around 3pm enroute from Kalispell, Montana to Lynden.

After the Washington plane crash, Veatch said she followed a river to a trail that led to State Route 20 near Mazama where she waved down a passing motorist. The motorist took Veatch to a store in Mazama where she called the authorities. According to the 911 call, Veatch’s step-grandparents, Leland Bowman, 62, and his wife Sharon, 63, of Marion, Montana, did not survive the crash. Veatch told the Okanogan County 911 operator that she had, “a lot of burns on my hands and I’m, like, kind of covered in bruises and scratches and stuff.”

Washington Plane Crash
Leland and Sharon Bowman in front of the Beech 35 plane that crashed in the North Cascades on Saturday. Source: Kouw

Veatch had suffered minor scrapes and bruises during her ordeal and was severely dehydrated and suffering from extreme muscle fatigue from her hike out of the mountains. Emergency medical technicians treated Veatch at the store in Mazama before transporting her by ambulance to the 3 Rivers Hospital in Brewster. Veatch was released from the hospital on Tuesday and returned home to Bellingham.

Washington Plane Crash
View of the rugged Easy Pass area of the North Cascades near Mazama. Source: WTA

During her ordeal, Veatch survived alone in some of the most formidable terrain in state. The hiking site Go-Washington.com classifies the Easy Pass area as a difficult hike adding, “This route was called ‘Easy’ Pass because it was the only place possible to put a trail across rugged, ragged ridges.” Family and medical personnel were surprised that Veatch was in such good condition after surviving the crash and over 48 hours without food or water. Veatch attributed her survival to watching the popular television program Survivor with her family.

Okanogan County officials said Tuesday that they located what they believe to be the plane piloted by Bowman, but could not reach the site. The search will continue on Wednesday.

What to do if Lost

Author of Deep Survival and researcher Laurence Gonzales says that, in survival situations, it is one’s mindset that often determines who lives and who dies. He offers these 14 steps for survival in the wilderness. Find out more about these steps here.

1. Do the Next Right Thing
2. Control Your Destiny
3. Deny Denial
4. Use a Mantra
5. Think Positive
6. Understand Linked Systems
7. Don’t Celebrate the Summit
8. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
9. Risk and Reward
10. Trust Your Instincts
11. Know Plan B
12. Help Others
13. Be Cool
14. Surrender, but Don’t Give Up

Dutch is a regular adventuring jack-of-all trades— he is an alpine climber, trekker, hiker, rock climber, skier, snow shoer, kayaker, ocean swimmer, scuba diver, mountain biker, and sky diver to name a few of his pursuits. Along with being a writer for SBM, Dutch is a psychology doctoral candidate and a freelance writer of fourteen years. Dutch has participated in both supported and unsupported treks in the U.S., Asia, and Central and South America. When he's not adventuring, Dutch also writes investigative journalism and short fiction.

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