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    Crash teenager survives for eight days
    October 12, 2004 - 2:04PM

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    After eight days, Laura Hatch's family in Seattle, Washington in the United States had almost given the 17-year-old up for dead.

    Sheriff's deputies had all but written her off as a runaway.

    Then she was found, badly hurt and severely dehydrated, but alive and conscious, in the back seat of a crumpled car, 60 metres down a ravine.

    A volunteer searcher who said she had had several vivid dreams of a wooded area found the wrecked car in the trees.

    Hatch, who remains in hospital in serious condition, was last seen at a party on October 2.

    When she did not show up by the next day, her family filed a missing person's report.

    The initial search was slowed because there had been underage drinking at the party, and the young people who attended would not say where it had been held, sheriff's Sergeant John Urquhart said.

    On October 6, detectives learned the party had been in a neighbourhood east of Lake Washington and searched along her likely route home, Urquhart said. But prospects dimmed as the days passed.

    "We had already given her up and let her be dead in our hearts," her mother, Jean Hatch, told KOMO-TV.

    Urquhart noted that in 24 years with the department, he had never known of a person to survive eight days without food or water. He said an investigation into the accident was under way.

    During the search, a statewide bulletin was released and advisories were sent to local police agencies. But Urquhart said family and friends indicated "the most likely scenario was that she was a runaway".

    Hatch's parents organised a volunteer search on Saturday, and that night Sha Nohr, a church member and mother of a friend of Hatch's, said she had dreams of a wooded area and heard the message, "Keep going, keep going".

    Nohr and her daughter drove to the area where the crash occurred, praying along the way.

    "I just thought, 'Let her speak out to us,'" Nohr told The Seattle Times.

    Nohr said something drew her to stop and clamber over a concrete barrier and more than 30 metres down a steep, densely vegetated embankment where she barely managed to discern the wrecked Toyota Camry in some trees.

    She called to her daughter, who flagged down a passing motorist. The man helped Nohr get closer to the car as aid was summoned.

    "I told her that people were looking for her and they loved her," Nohr recalled, "And she said, 'I think I might be late for curfew'."

    Hatch was being treated at Harborview Medical Centre in Seattle for dehydration, a blood clot on the brain, and broken bones in her face, hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg-Hanson said.

    "She's a little bit confused. That's really standard course for what she's been through," Gregg-Hanson said. "I think everybody thinks it's an amazing story that she's doing as well as she is."

    A call to the family home in Redmond was answered by one of Hatch's sisters, who declined to comment.

    "We were afraid that we weren't going to find her, we weren't going to get her back," Hatch's other sister, Amy, told KING-TV in Seattle.

    "This is the best thing that could happen because there were a million awful scenarios."
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