Hannah Luce: Woman is Sole Plane Crash Survivor After Rescue by Marine Friend

Small crash survivor was pulled from burning plane by an Iraq war veteran.

ByABC News
May 14, 2012, 4:05 AM

May 14, 2012 — -- The sole survivor of a small plane crash in Kansas is in stable but serious condition after she was reportedly pulled out of the burning aircraft by a passenger, an Iraq war veteran who later died from his injuries.

Hannah Luce, 22, is in a Kansas City hospital with burns covering 28 percent of her body after surviving the Friday crash that killed three of her friends and the young pilot.

"While we're thankful for this miracle of Hannah, we are truly grieving with all these parents," Hannah Luce's father, Ron Luce, said.

Luce and her three friends were aboard an eight-seater twin-engine Cessna 401 plane, heading to a Christian youth rally called Acquire the Fire, in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The rally was held by Teen Mania Ministries, an organization founded by Luce's father.

But after taking off from an airport in Tulsa, something suddenly went wrong with the plane, which landed in a field and skidded around 200 feet before hitting several trees and bursting into flames.

The pilot, 23-year-old Luke Sheets died at the scene, as did 29-year-old Garrett Coble, and 22-year-old Stephen Luth.

Austin Anderson, a 27-year-old former marine who completed two tours in Iraq, had just graduated from Oral Roberts University with Luce on May 5. Anderson reportedly pulled Luce out of the burning plane, and the two were able to walk to a nearby road for help.

Anderson later died in the hospital, suffering burns over 90 percent of his body.

"It would totally be like Austin's character," friend Lauren Rocket told ABC News. "He was such a tough guy, but once you got to know him he was so much a teddy bear."

Ron Luce told ABC News Kansas City affiliate KMBC that he knew Anderson and that he is the type of man that would save someone in that situation.

"He served two tours in Iraq, and he was willing to give his life for his country," he said. "He was willing to give his life for a friend. He was always willing to go that extra mile."

Luce said his daughter, who was working on her master's degree in counseling psychology, "just began to tear up" when asked about Anderson pulling her from the wreckage.

Hannah is now in serious but stable condition in at University of Kansas Hospital, where on Monday she will undergo skin grafts for her burns.

"She said, 'I have all these burns," her father said. "Then she said, 'but I'm here. I'm here.'"