Steamboat Springs Sara Humpal, the youngest survivor of a plane crash at Yampa Valley Regional Airport in February, arrived home in Corpus Christi, Texas, on Sunday night to continue her recovery.
The 10-year-old was critically injured in the Feb. 19 crash that killed her mother, Gaby Humpal, 44, and pilot Hans Vandervlugt, 75. Sara’s father, Scott Humpal, and her brothers Tad, 18, and Dillon, 13, also were injured in the crash and were treated at YVMC for injuries that ranged from broken bones to cervical instability.
Sara was airlifted the day after the crash to Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora where she remained until Sunday. A friend of the Humpals said Sara now is happy to be home.
“She’s definitely a girl with a lot of will, and she really wanted to get back home,” Michelle Braselton said Wednesday. “She is healing and recovering, and she has a strong support system.”
Scott Humpal has been keeping family and friends informed of Sara’s progress daily on his Facebook page.
“Sara is doing great!” he posted Monday. “We arrived at home at 5 p.m. Sunday....so happy to be together will all of the kids....many friends and family have been by to visit.....Sara has everything she needs right here at home now, including a hospital bed and wheelchair......and lots of help and love.....”
Braselton said that Sara had surgery Tuesday to close up a wound on her leg and that she still is being treated at Driscoll Children’s Hospital because of a buildup of fluid around her heart. Braselton said that the family has a great support system back home and that the Humpals are asking their community to keep them in their prayers.
“That’s all Scott is asking for. We’re all hoping that she recovers,” Braselton said, adding that she hopes Sara will be able to play tennis again. “We don’t want her dreams to be dashed along with everything else that has happened to her.”
Scott Humpal said that his daughter still may have to undergo back surgery and that fractures in her neck are healing.
The family was on its way to Steamboat for a ski vacation when the plane crashed short of the runway in a snowstorm that airport officials said reduced visibility to zero.
Gaby Humpal was laid to rest last week after a service at the Bay Area Fellowship that Braselton called a beautiful and fitting tribute to the friend she met through a Bible study group. A service for Vandervlugt was held Tuesday in Corpus Christi.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com