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How a 16-year-old survived plane crash in Washington mountains

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A Washington teen was found alive and well on Monday after surviving a plane crash in Washington state's Cascade Mountains. 16-year-old Autumn Veatch reportedly hiked through forest for two days before finally being able to flag down help.

Autumn had been flying from Montana to Washington on Saturday with her step-grandparents, when their Beech A-35 crashed in the North Cascades. Searchers are still looking for the wreckage, which they have not been able to find as of Tuesday morning.

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Autumn was unable to pull her step-grandparents from the wreckage and remained at the site for a day, sleeping on a sandbar, before deciding to head down the mountain and look for help. 

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She followed drainage to a river, to a trail, and eventually to a state highway where she flagged down a motorist.

Aside from dehydration, minor burns, and exhaustion, she was completely fine with no life-threatening injuries, says Scott Graham, chief executive officer of Three Rivers Hospital. Autumn was only suffering from a treatable muscle breakdown due to vigorous exercise without food or water.

"It's a miracle, no question about it," Lt. Col. Jeffrey Lustick of the Civil Air Patrol, who has spent 30 years in search and rescue, told reporters. 

The search is still ongoing for the wreckage of the Bowman’s plane, and emergency management tells The Seattle Times that that specific area is difficult to search.

Authorities are dealing with “rocks and trees and lots of nooks and crannies,” says John Himmel,  emergency management and security coordinator for the Washington State Department of Transportation.

“Probably the most difficult terrain to try and do the search in the state of Washington,” he says.

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Navy helicopters searched for the wreckage until late Monday. Washington state Transportation spokeswoman Barbara LaBoe told the Associated Press. The search would resume Tuesday.

This report includes material from The Associated Press.