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MAZAMA, Wash. – The sole survivor of a plane crash that claimed the lives of her step-grandparents is talking about the tragedy for the first time.
Autumn Veatch, 16, was flying with her grandparents, Leland and Sharon Bowman, 62 and 63, Saturday in a small, private plane.
Autumn told NBC News that the plane flew out of the clouds, and then flew into the side a mountain.
“Everything was white, like everything — all the windows — everything was white, and then suddenly it was just all trees, and then it was fire,” she told NBC News.
She was able to get out of the plane, but her grandparents were trapped.
“I got out. There was fire. That’s how my face got burned. My hair was burning… and, my immediate response was to go and try to help them out. Because they were alive. They were alive. They were both screaming,” she told CNN.
Autumn says she thought if she could get her grandfather out first, Sharon could follow.
“I was trying to pull him out and I just couldn’t do it. There was a lot of fire. And I am a small person,” she said.
According to NBC News, Autumn was unable to save her grandparents, suffering second-degree burns on her right hand while trying to pull her grandfather from the wreckage.
“I was just blaming myself because the flight was to take me home — and there wasn’t anything I could do,” she said. “It took me a long time to realize that they would be happy that at least I made it out.”
She spent two nights by a river without food.
“It started feeling a little bit hopeless cause I had no idea where I was at all, like no clue,” she said.
Just when she felt like giving up, she remembered all of the people in her life and things she still loved to do.
“I just got this surge of willpower and was like there’s no way I can die without hugging somebody again,” she said. “That’s not fair at all. That’s not fair to me. That’s not fair to the people who care about me. And I went for the rest of the day.”
The plane’s wreckage was found late Tuesday.
According to NBC News, Autumn suffered second-degree burns on her hand, additional burns on her face and back, cuts and bruising on her back and legs, dehydration, and bug bites all over her body.
“I have such a newfound respect for life now,” Veatch said. “Spending three days wishing nothing more than to just be alive and do the simple things … every little thing makes me feel so incredibly grateful.”
Although Autumn misses her grandparents, she says she will remember the good times they had before the crash.
“I know they’re with me but it’s still, I’m going to miss them,” she said. “They did so much for me.”
— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 17, 2015