Fellow ORU Graduate: Marine Carried Crash Survivor To Safety
TULSA, Oklahoma - The only survivor of a plane crash that killed four young men is recovering from severe burns in a Kansas hospital.
Hannah Luce is off a ventilator. She was able to confirm that one of the other victims, a Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq, pulled her from the burning plane wreckage, according to Aubrey Crawford, recent ORU graduate.
Austin Anderson carried Luce to a nearby road despite being burned on 90 percent of his body, said Crawford, who rooms with Anderson's girlfriend and sat with the former staff sergeant during graduation ceremonies the weekend before his death.
His girlfriend Elizabeth told News On 6 Anderson carried Luce as far as he could before going into shock.
When Luce awoke in the hospital, her first thoughts were of Anderson, Aubrey Crawford said.
"She couldn't talk, but they gave her a pen and paper and all she wrote, over and over, was 'Austin saved me. Austin saved me,'" she said.
When Luce was told of Anderson's death, she had to be sedated, according to Crawford.
The group of five was flying to Council Bluffs, Iowa, for a Teen Mania ministries conference called Acquire the Fire. They left Jones Airport on Friday and crashed in a field outside Chanute, Kansas that afternoon.
The twin-engine plane crashed near a hedgerow, just north of a cornfield, according to Wilson County Emergency Management. The Cessna burst into flames, killing pilot Luke Sheets and passengers Stephen Luth and Garrett Coble.
Anderson died of his injuries Saturday morning.
Luce, who is the daughter of Teen Ministries founders Ron and Katie Luce, sustained burns on 28 percent of her body. She is undergoing skin graft surgeries for third degree burns on the back of her hands and lower left leg.
"Not only is he a hero for serving our nation, we probably owe our daughter's life to his courage and strength," Ron and Katie Luce said of Anderson, in a letter published on Teen Mania's web site.
"It is truly a miracle that she is alive. Grief counselors will be seeing Hannah throughout the next few weeks; as her heart is heavy with the grief for the loss of her friends."
Aubrey Crawford said she spoke to Anderson's girlfriend who was originally to fly to Council Bluffs for the conference but decided to drive instead. She made it to Kansas in time to see Anderson before his death.
"When she finally got to the hospital, she wasn't able to recognize him," Crawford said. "She was afraid to even give him a kiss because she didn't want to hurt him."
The Marine's remarkable act of heroism didn't surprise Crawford.
"He was a Marine," she said. "He was willing to die to serve his country and willing to die to save anyone else."
Services for Austin Anderson will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Emmanuel Baptist Church, 2505 West Garriot, in Enid.