DETROIT An Indiana doctor killed in a plane crash in Michigan on Friday had a passion for flying that propelled him back into the cockpit after a crash that killed his wife and two children nearly eight years ago, a colleague and close friend said.
Dr. Stephen Hatch, 46, and his current wife, Kim, died in a Friday evening crash near Charlevoix that left his 16-year-old son, Austin, seriously injured. A hospital official said Austin remained in critical condition Saturday afternoon at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City.
Hatch and his then-8-year-old son survived the earlier crash near Fort Wayne. Dr. G. David Bojrab said they were returning from the family's summer home on Walloon Lake the same place they were flying to Friday when their single-engine plane flew into a garage near the Charlevoix Municipal Airport.
"He was such a strong proponent of flying and teaching people to fly ... I think he felt compelled to continue his passion," said Bojrab, a partner with Hatch in Pain Management Associates in Fort Wayne.
"He felt compelled to show people that accidents do happen. He didn't want people to look in the other direction."
A 2005 federal report on the September 2003 crash found inaccurate preflight planning resulted in the plane not having enough fuel. The National Transportation Safety Board determined a utility pole the airplane hit during its forced landing, a low ceiling and dark night also contributed to the crash.
Bojrab said his friend disputed the report's findings, believing equipment failure caused the crash.
"When he crashed, it was an inferno, which makes you wonder how he could have been out of gas," Bojrab said.
Hatch saved Austin, but his other children Lindsay, 11, and Ian, 5 died along with his wife, Julie, 38.
"His wife and two children were in flames and he was never able to reach them," Bojrab said. "Steve reached over to his son who was sitting in front with him and tossed him out the window to save his life."
Bojrab said Austin was "the apple of his dad's eye," and Hatch took great pride in his son's athletic prowess. Austin, a junior at Canterbury School in Fort Wayne, Ind., committed earlier this month to play basketball at the University of Michigan, where his father and mother went to school.
Bojrab said Stephen Hatch had planned to go to Spain to celebrate his parents' 50th wedding anniversary with the rest of his family, but he canceled the trip to spend time with Austin and his adult stepchildren.
"Steve was a very big family man," Bojrab said.
NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said investigators were on the scene Saturday and would be examining the aircraft, interviewing witnesses and requesting air traffic control communications and radar data. He expected a preliminary report within 10 days and a final report determining a cause within 18 months.