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Kansas plane crash: Lone survivor, with burns, headed for surgery

May 14, 2012|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske

The lone survivor of Friday's small-airplane crash in southeast Kansas was scheduled for surgery Monday to treat severe burns on 28% of her body.

Hannah Luce of Garden Valley, Texas, a recent graduate of Oral Roberts University, was flying with four others to a Christian youth rally in Iowa when their twin-engine Cessna 401 crashed northwest of Chanute, Kansas.

The rest of the group died in or soon after the crash. The dead have been identified as pilot Luke Sheets, 23, of Ephraim, Wis.; Austin Anderson, 27, of Ringwood, Okla.; Garrett Coble, 29, of Tulsa, Okla.; and Stephen Luth, 22, of Muscatine, Iowa, a spokeswoman for the family told the Los Angeles Times on Monday. 

Luce is the daughter of Ron Luce, an Oral Roberts trustee and founder of Teen Mania Ministries, which was sponsoring the rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa.  

Hannah Luce was being treated at the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas; a  spokesman there said she was in serious condition but expected to make a full recovery.

“She will be going into surgery today for skin grafts for burns she suffered on her left leg, her arms and her hands,” Teen Mania spokeswoman Cindy Mallette told The Times. “They’re saying it’s a miracle she didn’t suffer more internal trauma.”

Luce was off a respirator and breathing on her own Monday, awake and answering questions, Mallette said.

“She’s dealing with a lot with the loss of four friends. They were just tremendous individuals,” Mallette said. “They all had a heart for reaching the younger generation.”

Mallette said the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating what caused the crash. She noted that Sheets, who was flying the plane, had a commercial pilot’s license, was certified for that aircraft and had been flying for years.

“He knew what he was doing,” she said.

No funeral information was available early Monday for the crash victims, Mallette said.

Anderson, a former Marine who had served two tours of duty in Iraq before attending Oral Roberts, may have helped Luce escape the crash site and get help before succumbing to his own burn injuries, according to statements from Luce's family on Facebook.

He and Luth had recently been hired to the Teen Mania marketing staff.

Coble, a professor at Northeastern State University in Broken Arrow, Okla., was a longtime friend of Teen Mania and had served with the group on 15 mission trips, Luce’s father told the Associated Press.

He told the AP that Sheets was the son of a former Air Force pilot who now flies commercial jets.

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molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com

 

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