Friends: Ind. teen tough enough to survive crash

June 27, 2011 - 5:00 PM

DETROIT (AP) — An Indiana basketball standout fighting for his life after a plane crash that killed his father bounced back from a similar tragedy eight years ago and has established strong relationships with an extended family who are ready to support him, friends said Monday.

Austin Hatch, 16, was the lone survivor the small plane crash Friday in Michigan that killed his father and stepmother. He and his father also survived a similar crash in 2003 that killed his mother and two siblings.

The teen has been in a drug-induced coma at a Traverse City hospital, where classmates were gathered Monday. Described as an A student and outstanding athlete, the high school junior recently made an early commitment to play basketball at the University of Michigan in 2013.

Trent VanHorn, Hatch's teammate at Canterbury School in Fort Wayne, said he was hopeful his best friend would recover.

"He's definitely one of the toughest guys I know," said Trent VanHorn, 16. "We've known each other our whole lives. If there's anyone who can make it through this tragedy ... it's definitely him."

Another friend, Barrett Colby, said his family and many others were ready to open their homes and hearts to Hatch when he is released from the hospital.