Austin Hatch Speaks Publicly for First Time since Crash

Submitted by Raoul on November 20th, 2013 at 8:16 PM

Austin Hatch held a quite remarkable press conference today, speaking publicly for the first time since surviving his second plane crash in the summer of 2011. A Fort Wayne TV station posted a report with video from the press conference (video embedded in a reply), and there's also a report from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette (from which I took the thread title):

"Aside from the physical trauma that I suffered in the accident and recovered from that, the emotional pain will never fully subside," said Hatch, whose news conference was streamed live.

"Dealing with the loss of my best friend and coach and teacher and No. 1 fan in Dr. Stephen Hatch, who was also my father," Hatch said, "he was an incredible man and taught me everything I know. The things I learned from him are the work ethic needed to succeed, determination … those traits I acquired from him are the ones that saved my life."

. . .

His uncle, coach and Hatch himself confirmed Hatch still is not ready to return to the court competitively.

. . .

Hatch recently signed a letter of intent to Michigan, but was unsure what his role with the team would be, whether as a manager or a practice player.

But Wolverines coach John Beilein still honored the scholarship.

"He expects me to be a part of Michigan basketball, whether on the court or off," Hatch said.



November 20th, 2013 at 8:55 PM ^

I hope he finds fulfillment in whatever he goes after.  I think it is also pretty unlikely he will ever suit up - but that's fine.  He can contribute in a ton of other ways most likely. 


November 20th, 2013 at 10:49 PM ^

I dated a girl who was a flight attendant once and she told me how much safer it was then driving. I honestly don't know how I acquired the fear. I am making a move from Rochester NY to Denver and I was just blessed with my first niece 9 months ago. I do not want to take a train 20 hours each way so I need to take the plunge here sooner or later. I imagine I'd need several Xanax and a Jameson on the rocks to even board the plane.


November 21st, 2013 at 12:39 AM ^

50% responsibiltiy is probably pushing it.  In a car you navigate a chaotic environment wherein at any moment someone could run a red light or cross over the median and plow you.  All it takes is a teenager texting, a drunk person, or just a momentary glance away.  You seem to think that being in control of the car you could successfully evade such things, and maybe in some situations you could. Most of the time though, in fatal accidents you likely couldn't avoid it because you don't see it coming.  The thought of being utterly helpless in a crashing plane is indeed horrifying, but in modern commericial aviation, subject to rigorous safety regulations and with continuously improving safety-related technologies, the odds of that aren't much worse than winning the lottery.  It's a psychological thing I mostly got over a while ago.  In a sense its peaceful to realize it's out of your control, so you might as well just chill and order a beer from the stewardess.






November 21st, 2013 at 1:23 AM ^

The most dangerous part of flying on a commerical jet in the USA is driving to the airport.

Now, this kid crashed in a small plane, which is a totally different story.  Those hold a completely different risk profile.  But thousands upon thousands of commerical jets traverse the country every single day without incident.  Sure, you are never 100% safe, but you really are in far more danger in your car, no matter how good of a driver you are.


November 20th, 2013 at 9:35 PM ^

happy he is going to be part of the Michigan basketball family. JB seemed thrilled to receive his commitment... a true reflection of the man who leads Wolverine basketball.


November 20th, 2013 at 9:52 PM ^

I know that Beilein has said that they would honor the scholarship and signing the letter of intent, I would think, makes that official. It will be great to cheer on this young man as he makes his first entrance into Crisler next year. Indeed, this is a reflection of the incredible people that make up this program and the incredible people who want to be a part of it. 


November 20th, 2013 at 10:15 PM ^

DISCLAIMER: Don't take this the wrong way, I'm genuinely asking.


Obviously after the accident he had many injuries both emotionally and physically, my question is what do people think is holding him back from playing in the future? Physical injuries from the accident? I'm truly curious I simply want to know. I'm pulling for him, hope he finds a way on the court!


November 20th, 2013 at 10:29 PM ^

But I believe it would be all the head trauma he suffered. Physically he could come back but trauma to the head could cause reaction issues and affect his thought process. Let's hope I'm totally off base with this assessment. Gotta love the kid for being a man at such a young age.


November 21st, 2013 at 3:31 PM ^

But I think there's a bit of undercurrent with his rankings. If he was a 5* NBA prospect who crashed everyone would be "can he play again???" But because he was a lower rated early commit that came before Beilein really started bringing in some draftable talent that there's some of "well, too bad he's hurt, but I'm sure we'll honor his education, medical reshirt him, and get someone else (better)."

If he can't play, I'll be glad to see him graduate from U-M. But if he can play too, so much the better. He earned the scholarship. And no one has said he's never going to be able to use it yet. So unless you're part of his medical team (and a really bad one where to comes to client confidentiality) it's just a lot of conjecture by people.


November 21st, 2013 at 4:12 PM ^

I completely agree that there's been way too much conjecturing about Hatch over the last 2+ years. I remember numerous people declaring flat out that he would never be able to play basketball again—at any level. Well, they were completely wrong. He could have played for his high school team last year, and at some point this season he'll play for his new school. He decided last year not to play because, while had been medically cleared to do so, he didn't feel like he had made enough progress to justify being on the floor and taking minutes away from his teammates.

Basically, we'll just have to wait and see how much more progress he makes. He's shown some flashes of the basketball player he used to be, as the beginning of this article shows:

Late in basketball practice at Loyola High School this week, Austin Hatch slipped around a 7-foot teammate and hit an up-and-under shot with all the grace and savvy you would expect from a Michigan-bound swingman.

"The celebration caused us to miss about five minutes of practice," coach Jamal Adams said, still beaming at the memory.

Basketball is gradually coming back to Hatch, a 19-year-old straight-A student who spent the past two years re-learning how to breathe, eat, walk and live after surviving a plane crash for the second time in his life.


November 21st, 2013 at 1:30 AM ^

Just take the flight.  There is nothing magic about trains.  They can and do crash too.

Think about the THOUSANDS of flights that are in the air over this country every single day without significant incidents.   No one can every promise you that you will be safe.  But no one can promise you you won't trip and fall down your stairs tomorrow morning, or that you will drive safely to the airport either.

I personally hate flying.  Sometimes it scares the crap out of me.  But I'm a math and statistics person, and the math tells me that I'm safer in a US commerical jet than I am in most any other form of transportation.  And it's a hell of a lot more convenient than a 20 hour train ride.


November 20th, 2013 at 10:43 PM ^

What a mentally tough kid. Unbelievable losses he's endured and continues to endure. I hope he enjoys his time in Ann Arbor and lives a long fruitful life.


Spontaneous Co…

November 21st, 2013 at 9:45 AM ^

what Austin's residual deficits are?  We've heard a lot of generalized comments about him not being ready to play competitively yet, but I've never seen anything specific about what is still limiting him.