Austin Hatch returns home, family says

Updated: October 10, 2011, 3:37 PM ET
Associated Press

FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- The family of a high school basketball star from Fort Wayne says he has returned home more than three months after suffering a serious head injury in a Michigan plane crash that killed his father and stepmother.

Austin Hatch, who had accepted a scholarship to play basketball at the University of Michigan starting in 2013, still faces a long recovery from the June 24 crash that also left him with a punctured lung and broken ribs and collarbone, according to a family statement emailed Sunday to The Journal Gazette.

"While Austin has made great improvements, he still has obstacles to overcome as he continues to heal, grieve and acclimate to life after tragedy," the statement said.

Hatch's father, Stephen Hatch, was flying the single-engine plane when it crashed near Charlevoix, Mich. A preliminary National Transportation Safety Board said Hatch had told Charlevoix Municipal Airport he was executing a GPS approach at a time when witnesses said the cloud ceiling was 200 feet about ground level.

Austin Hatch also survived a 2003 crash near Fort Wayne of a plane piloted by Stephen Hatch that killed the boy's mother, a sister and a brother.

"We are extremely thankful and relieved that Austin is home with us," Hatch's family said in Sunday's statement.

The family, however, did not say where "home" will be for the Canterbury High School standout, who had been living in Fort Wayne with his father and stepmother.

The family asked for privacy for Hatch, saying that he is not ready to be interviewed.

In the statement, the family thanked Hatch's supporters in Fort Wayne and around the country, along with his caregivers at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, Mich., and at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

"Your excellent care, compassion and support have made a difference in all of our lives and in Austin's recovery," the statement said.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE