Former Marine Dies After Saving Friend From Burning Plane In Kansas Crash

Saturday, May 12th 2012, 9:23 pm
By: News On 6

Tragic news hit the Oral Roberts University campus this weekend.

A former teacher and three recent graduates were killed when their small plane crashed outside Chanute, Kan., on Friday afternoon.

5/12/2012 Related Story: Kansas Plane Crash Claims Lives Of ORU Graduates, Former Teacher

The plane went down in a field, skidded a couple hundred feet, hit a tree and burst into flames.

Pilot Luke Sheets, Stephen Luth and Garrett Coble were all pronounced dead at the scene.

Austin Anderson was rushed to the hospital where he died Saturday morning.

Hannah Luce survived and is in serious but stable condition right now, with burns on 28 percent of her body.

The group was headed to Iowa for a conference with Teen Mania Ministries. Anderson and Luth had just been hired to work in marketing for the ministry.

Anderson's close friend said he was truly one of a kind.

"My name is Austin Anderson, and I'm a junior at ORU and I'm a sergeant in the Marine Corps."

That quote is just part of a powerful video of Anderson News On 6 found on Facebook. The video was produced by fellow ORU student Brook Ninowski.

"They truly encompass the ORU thing," Aubrey Crawford, Anderson's friend, said. "They went out into every man's world, and they helped everyone they came in contact with. They had a heart for people, and they will be missed."

Crawford was a close friend of Anderson's and she describes him as a man who always put others first.

And it shows in his actions by the heroic move he made right after the plane crashed.

"He got out, but he went to get Hannah out as well and that's how his lungs got burned," Crawford said. "He was on the ventilator, and they had to take him off the ventilator and he died this morning."

At just 27 years old, Anderson had accomplished a lot. He joined the Marine Corps after high school and served two tours in Iraq.

Just last week, Anderson graduated from Oral Roberts University.

"It was a lot of fun," Crawford said. "I sat next to Stephen and Austin on graduation day, and we had a blast."

Crawford never imagined that would be the last time she'd see her friends alive.

"It's hard," she said.

Crawford said Anderson and his girlfriend Elizabeth were planning to get married within the next year.

Elizabeth was also supposed to fly with the group to Iowa, but changed her mind and decided to drive.  Her father later said he'd had a bad feeling about the plane.

"She's had a hard time, but everything will be okay," Crawford said.

In a statement, ORU President Mark Rutland said, "Please pray for all of the families that lost loved ones and for Hannah in the hospital."

The crash is still under investigation.