Autumn Veatch, 16, was traveling from Montana to Washington in a small plane when the aircraft crash landed. Unfortunately, her grandparents, who she was traveling with, don't appear to have survived, but she amazingly did.
After Saturday's devastating accident, the teen remained at the crash site for a day, spending the night near a river, but when it became apparent that there was no rescue forthcoming, she decided to hike out of there and seek help.
She followed a stream to a highway and was eventually able to flag down a vehicle, whose driver took her to a store where she was able to phone for help. She told the 911 operator that she had survived the crash but she was the only one who was able to climb out of the wreckage.
While she did survive the crash and her treacherous trek to safety, she did not escape unscathed. She had burns to her hands, suffered bruises and scratches, was dehydrated and also developed rhabdomyolysis, which is the breakdown of muscle tissue that results in muscle fiber that enters the blood stream — which can cause organ damage and needs treatment.
She has been recovering at a nearby hospital, but rescuers hope that she'll be able to help them locate the wreckage and her grandparents, who have yet to be found.
While we are in the middle of summer, higher elevations can still get pretty cold at night. My eldest child is working at Yellowstone National Park right now, and I noticed that the temperature plummeted to 38 degrees the other night. Even in the warmest months, there can and will be snow in the peaks.
So while you may not be a huge fan of romping around in the wilderness, you should at least brush up on basic survival skills for a situation that may merit it. Making sure you have access to clean water, are wearing solid shoes, have an understanding of the local flora and fauna and know how to start a fire and seek shelter should be top priorities. Here's a quick-and-dirty beginner's guide, and it wouldn't hurt to brush up on these tips even if you never plan on experiencing (and surviving) a plane wreck or hiking through mountainous terrain when you don't know what you're doing.
I'm so glad she made it out of the plane crash alive — not many people can say that — and she was able to hike her way to rescue. While she'll have a lot of recovering to do, both physically and emotionally, she's on the right track to feeling better.
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