Marine pulled woman to safety
NY Daily News: A Texas minister’s daughter is clinging to life in a Kansas hospital after surviving a plane crash that killed four of her friends, including an Iraq war veteran who dragged her to safety but later died of his injuries.
Hannah Luce, 22, and her friends were flying from Tulsa, Okla., to a Christian youth rally in Iowa aboard an eight-seat Cessna 401 plane on Friday afternoon when it crashed into a field in southeast Kansas, slammed into some trees and burst into flames, The Associated Press reported.
The pilot, Luke Sheets, 23, and two others Garrett Coble, 29, and 22-year-old Stephen Luth, died at the scene.
Austin Anderson, a 27-year-old former Marine who had served two tours in Iraq, suffered burns over 90% of his body in the crash but managed to pull Luce from the wreckage, authorities said. The pair then walked to a nearby road for help. Anderson ultimately died at a hospital in Wichita.
Ron Luce, a minister in Garden Valley, Tex., and the founder of the organization sponsoring the Iowa rally, said he first heard about the crash when a woman called him on Friday to say his daughter was alive.
“I asked [the woman], ‘Where’s the plane?’ She said it’s off in the distance, and there are flames, there’s smoke,” Luce said Sunday at a news conference at University of Kansas Hospital, where his daughter was in serious condition with burns over 28% of her body.
The group was headed to an Acquire the Fire rally in Council Bluffs, a youth rally run by Teen Mania Ministries, which Ron Luce founded 25 years ago to reach out to troubled youths.
Hannah Luce and Anderson had just graduated from Oral Roberts University together on May 5, while Sheets, from Wisconsin, and Luth, of Iowa, were also recent graduates, the school said.
Ron Luce said he wasn’t surprised by Anderson’s bravery. “I know Austin, he’s that kind of guy,” Luce said. “He served two tours in Iraq, and he was willing to give his life for his country. He was willing to give his life for a friend. He was always willing to go that extra mile.”
Luce said Hannah “just began to tear up” but didn’t respond when he asked her about the former staff sergeant’s final act of heroism.
Once a Marine, always a Marine. RIP Anderson.