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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Sole Survivor: 11-Year-Old Miraculously Survives Plane Crash After Father's Heroic Rescue

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Around 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, a twin-engine Britton-Norman BN-2 plane crashed while landing at Welke Airport near Beaver Island, Michigan.

Out of four passengers, the pilot and two dogs, there was only one survivor: 11-year-old Laney Perdue from Gaylord, Michigan.

She was life-flighted to the McLaren Northern Michigan Hospital in Petoskey, according to The Petoskey News-Review, and the helicopter crew had to perform chest compressions on the way.

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Initially, an adult male was also life-flighted away from the accident, but he was pronounced dead at the hospital.

As the families have been notified, the heartbreaking loss has come into clear focus. Though the pilot’s name was not shared, the deceased included couple Kate Leese and Adam Kendall and Laney’s father, Mike Perdue.

Though Laney was first reported to be in serious condition with broken bones and other injuries, she was in stable condition on Sunday and was moved to a children’s hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The 11-year-old revealed that her father had made the ultimate sacrifice for her.

“He cradled her in his arms,” friend Ryan Wojan told CNN. “She doesn’t remember anything, except for her daddy squeezing her so hard.”

“He was always a giver … and was such an important part of the community.”

Wojan knew Perdue from Smith Realty Group, as they were both co-owners. Wojan had flown on the same plane three hours earlier and planned to meet up with Perdue for the opening day of firearm deer season while Laney planned to stay with a local family friend.

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“It’s her last memory before the crash,” Christina Perdue told ABC News of her husband holding their daughter tight. “We are heartbroken with the loss of my husband, a father, brother, son and friend. He gave the best bear hugs, and I believe he grabbed our daughter and protected her.

“Our prayers are also with our island community and the other souls lost in the accident.”

A GoFundMe has been started for the family, though organizers said prayers are also welcome and appreciated.

The two other passengers who perished, Leese and Kendall, had just started growing grapes and restoring an old farmhouse in the hopes of one day opening a winery.

“Almost immediately after we pulled into the marina here, we knew this was the level of quiet we were looking for,” Kendall had said about the spot they settled on, according to The Detroit News.

“At night, there’s almost complete silence here. There’s no light pollution. You can hear every car (if one goes by). It’s the kind of place we had been looking for as our next spot.”

“Kate and Adam were meant for each other,” Leese’s sister, Amanda Danielle Leese, told CNN. “They lived 20 lives in the time they knew each other. Kate was larger than life.

“She wanted to experience the world. She wanted to taste it. She wanted to explore it and Adam was right there with her.”

The small plane had been coming from Charlevoix, Michigan. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the crash.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking