Teen says she tried to save step-grandparents in plane crash

Published 9:37 am Friday, July 17, 2015

SEATTLE — The teenager who survived a small plane crash in Washington’s Cascade Mountains says she burned herself trying to pull her step-grandparents from the burning wreckage.

Autumn Veatch said there was zero visibility before the Saturday accident, and then “it was all trees and then it was fire.”

Authorities have said the plane entered a cloud bank before the crash.

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Veatch said after the crash her step-grandparents, Leland and Sharon Bowman, were trapped. She said she couldn’t get to Sharon Bowman but burned her hand trying to free Leland.

Before she fled she says she told the Bowmans that “I loved them and that it would be OK.”

The 16-year-old Veatch survived the impact and was able to hike to safety.

Two bodies were recovered from the crash site, but authorities said Thursday that the fiery crash has made official identification difficult. Veatch has confirmed it was the Bowmans who were killed.

Leland Bowman was flying Veatch from Montana to Bellingham, Washington. After being hospitalized Veatch returned home to Bellingham late Tuesday.

It took her about two days to find help after the weekend crash that left her bruised and singed.

She had to make her way down a steep slope and follow a creek to a river. She spent a night on a sand bar and sipped small amounts of water.