Austin Hatch plans to play in '13

Updated: May 1, 2012, 3:16 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- An Indiana high school basketball standout who survived a Michigan plane crash last year that killed his father and stepmother after surviving a 2003 crash that killed his mother plans to play college basketball next year.

Austin Hatch, of Fort Wayne, made a verbal commitment to play basketball at the University of Michigan before the June crash near the Charlevoix airport. He told the Detroit Free Press in an interview published Tuesday that he'll be on the court with the Wolverines in 2013.

"The most difficult thing is just missing my biological family, because I'm the only one left," he said. "I wish there was an instructional manual in how to deal with this kind of loss."

Hatch, who was 16 at the time of the crash, said he'll use a scholarship to live the life he and his father always had imagined. He has yet to be cleared to play and said he didn't care, trusting his doctors will tell him when it's appropriate. He said he thinks no one else can relate to his situation.

"No one that I know of," he said. "If there is someone, I haven't met them yet."

The most difficult thing is just missing my biological family, because I'm the only one left. I wish there was an instructional manual in how to deal with this kind of loss.

-- Austin Hatch

Hatch credits Michigan coach John Beilein for his desire to play for the school in 2013. Beilein can't publicly discuss Hatch until he signs his letter of intent to play for the Wolverines in the fall.

"He is one of the best guys that I know, he's unbelievable," Hatch told the newspaper. "He says you're not going to be as good at basketball -- not yet. It takes time. He understands my road to recovery is not going to be an easy one. It's going to take a lot of work. He's still supportive of me and everything. It's pretty cool.

"I'm still going on a full basketball scholarship. I'll still be on the team and all of that and go to practice and everything. But I just don't know if I'll be quite as good as I was before. But I still have over a year until then, so a lot can happen."

Last month, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a report that the crash that killed Dr. Stephen Hatch and his wife, Kim, occurred after the single-engine plane stalled because of inadequate air speed. The report said Stephen Hatch failed to follow the proper protocol.

[+] EnlargeAustin Hatch
Chad Ryan/The News-SentinelAustin Hatch suffered a serious head injury in the plane crash that killed his father and stepmother. He says the recovery has been difficult but he plans to play for Michigan in 2013.

After the aircraft missed its instrument landing approach at the Charlevoix Municipal Airport, he turned around and attempted a second landing on the runway from the opposite direction before crashing into a garage in a neighborhood near the airport, according to witness statements collected by the NTSB.

Stephen Hatch, who was an anesthesiologist and partner at Pain Management Associates, also was piloting a similar plane in September 2003 that crashed in Indiana. He saved Austin after that crash. But his other children -- Lindsay, 11, and Ian, 5 -- died along with his first wife, Julie, 38.

Following last year's crash en route to a summer home near Boyne Falls in northern Michigan, Austin Hatch was in a medically induced coma for weeks before returning to Fort Wayne. He was a standout basketball player at Canterbury High School in Fort Wayne. He didn't play basketball for Canterbury this past season.

Austin Hatch had a serious head injury from last year's crash. He said the recovery has been difficult.

"My dad's dad, my grandpa Jim Hatch, he's as close a thing to my dad as there is," he said. "So he's been very instrumental in helping me with the recovery process."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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