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Surviving Two Plane Crashes: How Austin Hatch is Thriving Through Tragedy (ep. 312)

John O’Leary welcomes Austin Hatch to the Live Inspired Podcast to share about overcoming tragedy.

The odds of surviving a plane crash resulting in one or more fatalities is one in 3.4 million. Today’s guest survived two, the odds of which are one in more than 11 quadrillion.

In the span of eight years, Austin Hatch survived two plane crashes that claimed five people closest to him.

In 2003, eight-year-old Austin Hatch lost his mother, younger brother, and older sister in a plane crash that he survived. In 2011, just days after making his commitment to play basketball at University of Michigan, he survived a second plane crash in which he lost his dad and step-mom. The second left him with brain damage and doctors feared he’d never walk again.

And yet, Austin continued to defy odds and went on to play Division I basketball.

Today’s conversation is a poignant story of thriving through tragedy. If you could use an example of perseverance in action – this episode is for you.

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  • “I’ve had two really bad days in my life. I can’t let those two days outshine all the other great days.”
  • September 1, 2003: Austin + his father survived the crash that claimed the life of his mom Julie , little brother Ian and older sister Lindsay.
  • After the accident, Austin + his father formed an even closer, inseparable bond, usually over basketball.
  • June 15, 2011: After finishing his sophomore year of high school, Austin committed to playing for his family-favorite University of Michigan.
  • June 24, 2011: While Austin survived the crash that claimed Austin’s father Steve and his “second mom” Kim, he was in a two-month coma with severe injuries and doctors were uncertain if he’d be able to walk again.
  • “Dwelling on events I couldn’t change wasn’t going to help me overcome. I had to shift my mindset.”
  • “I have a greater appreciation for things. I never take anything for granted.”
  • According to MIT statistician Arnold Barnett, the odds of surviving a plane crash with one fatality involved is one-in-3.4 million. Surviving two is a one-in-11 quadrillion and 560 trillion.
  • Unable to play, Michigan’s Head Coach John Beilein honored Austin’s scholarship and made him feel like an intergral part of the team.
  • Watch the emotional video of Austin + Abby’s wedding day here.


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  1. Q. What is the best book you’ve ever read?
    A. Malcolm Gladwell's The Outliers.
  2. Q. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today?
    A. Infectiously optimistic.
  3. Q. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be?
    A. Pictures of my family.
  4. Q. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be?
    A. My Dad.
  5. Q. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
    A. My dad said, "I believe the reason I am successful is that I'm loved by my family + friends, I'm admired by my peers and because I consistently use my God-given talents constructively to improve civilization.
  6. Q. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
    A. Keep getting after it. Show up and do the work.
  7. Q. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read?
    A. Austin Hatch is someone who used his experiences and God-given abilities constructively to make the world a better place. He left every place and every person a little better than he found it.