Teen Burned Hand Trying to Save Step-Grandparents from Fiery Plane Crash: I Told Them 'I Loved Them And That It Would Be Okay'

Autumn Veatch Tried to Rescue Step-Grandparents from Plane Crash
Autumn Veatch on Good Morning America

07/17/2015 AT 08:30 AM EDT

Autumn Veatch, the 16-year-old who miraculously survived a plane crash and then hiked through dense forest for two days to get help, tried desperately to rescue her step-grandparents, but watched them die in front of her.

"It took basically no time for fire to start coming out of the front," she told Good Morning America on Friday morning.

Autumn scrambled out of the plane's wreckage, but her step-grandparents, Leland and Sharon Bowman, were quickly trapped by the flames. "I was just trying to do what I could to get them out," she said, adding that she burned her hand reaching in to try to pull them free. "It was a lot of adrenaline."

But she couldn't save them and was forced to watch them die in front of her. "That's something that's really going to haunt me," she said. Before leaving them, she told them "I loved them and that it would be okay," she told NBC News. Their bodies were recovered on Wednesday.

Autumn left her step-grandparents in the wreckage to get help, traveling through the wilderness using skills she learned from watching outdoor survival shows with her dad. "I was really worried," she said.

At one point, she fell down a cliff. "I was like thinking 'Well, I'm obviously going to die,' like why can't I just die fast," she told the Today show.

"And I just got this surge of willpower and was like there's no way I can die without hugging somebody again," she said.

A driver spotted her on Monday afternoon near a trailhead in North Cascades National Park in Washington State and picked her up. She was taken to the hospital where she was treated for dehydration and went home Tuesday.

"She's just an amazing kid," said Autumn's dad David Veatch. "There's more to her than she knows."

"I have such a new found respect for life now," Autumn told Today. "Every little thing makes me so grateful."

A GoFundMe page has been set up in Autumn's name for those who wish to donate.
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