June 26, 2011 in Nation/World

Airplane crash kills pilot who’d survived ’03 crash

Jeff Karoub Associated Press
 

DETROIT – An Indiana doctor killed in a plane crash in northern Michigan had a passion for flying that drew him back into the cockpit after a crash that killed his wife and two children nearly eight years ago, a colleague and close friend said.

Dr. Stephen Hatch, 46, and his current wife, Kim, died in the Friday evening crash near Charlevoix that left his 16-year-old son, Austin, seriously injured. A hospital official said Austin was in critical condition Saturday afternoon at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, Mich.

Hatch and Austin, who was then 8, survived the earlier crash near Fort Wayne, Ind. Dr. G. David Bojrab said they had been returning from the family’s summer home on Walloon Lake – the same place they were flying to Friday when their single-engine plane flew into a garage near the Charlevoix Municipal Airport.

“He was such a strong proponent of flying and teaching people to fly. … I think he felt compelled to continue his passion,” said Bojrab, a partner with Hatch in Pain Management Associates in Fort Wayne.

A 2005 federal report on the September 2003 crash found inaccurate preflight planning resulted in the plane not having enough fuel. The National Transportation Safety Board determined a utility pole the airplane hit during its forced landing, a low cloud ceiling and dark night also contributed to the crash.

Bojrab said his friend disputed the report’s findings, believing equipment failure caused the crash.

Hatch saved Austin, but his other children – Lindsay, 11, and Ian, 5 – died along with his wife, Julie, 38.

“His wife and two children were in flames and he was never able to reach them,” Bojrab said. “Steve reached over to his son who was sitting in front with him and tossed him out the window to save his life.”

Bojrab said Austin was “the apple of his dad’s eye,” and Hatch took great pride in his son’s athletic prowess. Austin, a junior at Canterbury School in Fort Wayne, committed earlier this month to play basketball at the University of Michigan, where his father and mother went to school.

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