Eleven-year-old girl says her father’s bear hug saved her from a plane crash that killed four

·2 min read
Laney Perdue and her family before the accident (Go Fund Me/Dana Bensinger)
Laney Perdue and her family before the accident (Go Fund Me/Dana Bensinger)

An 11-year-old girl has recalled how she was saved from a plane crash that killed four people by her father’s bear hug.

Laney Perdue, from the city of Gaylord, Michigan, boarded a small 20-minute flight on 13 November to visit Beaver Island in northern Lake Michigan with her father Mike, a 43-year-old realtor.

The plane crashed on the island at 1.47pm, killing Mike along with the pilot William Julian, 55, and married passengers Kate Leese, 35, and Adam Kendall, 37.

Yet Laney survived the crash with 11 broken bones and injuries to her lips and mouth. According to an interview with People magazine, the emergency workers who pulled her from the wreck believe that she was saved by her father holding her tightly and shielding her as the plane hit.

Describing the moment of the crash, Laney said: “I felt this feeling in my stomach like the plane just dropped, and my dad had his feet out like he was bracing for something. The last thing I remember is my dad giving me the tightest hug ever. I'm alive because of him.”

Laney was taken to a hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she found out her father was dead. “I kind of knew he had passed, but I wasn't sure,” she said. “I just broke down crying.”

Afterwards, the Perdue family began writing down daily memories of Mike in a book on the kitchen counter, and intend to honour his request that they keep holidaying on Bear Island even if something happened to him.

Laney’s mother Christie, 39, said Mike was “known for his bear hugs”, and Laney described him as “the best girl dad”, who “celebrated the little moments in life.”

Laney said: “Every day he would wake up and be like, ‘you guys are beautiful. You guys are special’... I’m so sad, but I know Dad would want us to be okay. He would want us to live.”

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