Monday, October 11, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Redmond teenager survives 8 days stuck in car wreck

Seattle Times Eastside bureau

A Redmond teenager, missing for eight days, was found alive yesterday at the bottom of a woodsy ravine by a member of her church who said a vision led her to the girl.

Laura Hatch, 17, was found in the back seat of her smashed car, about 150 feet below Northeast Union Hill Road in Redmond, according to the King County Sheriff's Office. She was last seen in Redmond on Oct. 2. Family and friends had been searching for her since then.

Hatch was taken to Harborview Medical Center, where she was being treated for severe dehydration, a possible blood clot near her brain, broken ribs, a broken leg and facial injuries, according to her sister, Amy Hatch.

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

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

It appeared Hatch was trapped in her car without food or water for eight days, said John Urquhart, King County Sheriff's spokesman.

While he has heard of people surviving that long without water, Urquhart said, he couldn't recall any similar cases in King County.

From the beginning, police thought Hatch likely was a runaway because there was no reason to suspect foul play in her disappearance.

"There was no police search," Urquhart said, adding that Hatch was last seen at a party. "We felt she was most likely a runaway. Obviously, there was another reason."

Her parents, Jean and Todd Hatch, hired a private investigator and on Saturday organized a search involving 200 volunteers, including near where the car was found yesterday.

Since her disappearance, friends suggested that Laura Hatch might have been troubled or upset by something, but Amy Hatch said her sister showed no such signs. Her sister is an attractive, popular girl with lots of friends, Amy Hatch said.

Last night, more than 100 friends and acquaintances from Creekside Covenant Church cheered and sang at a celebratory prayer service that had been scheduled as a vigil before Hatch was found.

Church member Sha Nohr, whose daughter is friends with Laura Hatch, told the congregation how a vision led her to the lost teen.

Nohr said her teenage daughter, distraught over her missing friend, showed Nohr a photo of Hatch on Saturday and asked what they could do to find her. Nohr said she told her daughter all they could do was pray.

That night, Nohr, who belongs to an online prayer group for women, said she had several vivid dreams of a wooded area.

In the dreams, she said, she heard the message "Keep going. Keep going."

Yesterday morning, Nohr said, she woke up and felt an urgency to look for Hatch. She asked her daughter to go along.

They drove to the Union Hill area and pulled over. Nohr said she got out, but "it just didn't feel right."

So the two drove farther and stopped again in about the 20200 block of Northeast Union Hill Road. All the while, Nohr said, she prayed. "I just thought, 'Let her speak out to us.' "

At one spot, Nohr said she felt something draw her down a steep embankment. Her daughter waited up on the road while Nohr scrambled over a concrete barrier and inched her way more than 100 feet down through thick vegetation.

At the bottom, Nohr said, she saw nothing at first. She was about to leave, thinking she was wrong, when through the trees, she said, she saw what looked like a car.

It was Hatch's, crumpled so badly that it looked like "modern art," said Randy Phillips, the family's pastor.

Nohr said she called up to her daughter to get help. Her daughter stopped a passing motorist because she didn't know the name of the road they were on.

A man climbed down to help Nohr get close to Hatch, who was in the back seat.

"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.' "

While emergency crews were on the way, Nohr said, she used her cellphone to call Hatch's father, Todd Hatch.

Loved ones yesterday called the ending a miracle and spent several hours at Washington Cathedral in Redmond giving thanks.

After praying and celebrating, friends wrote messages to Hatch and her family on colored strips of paper that were then linked into a prayer chain.

"God works in powerful ways," said Stacey Behee, a church member who organized the vigil-turned-celebration. She said the congregation held several prayer vigils last week for Hatch.

As the week wore on, they never lost hope, said Anji Smith, another church member. "People just kept believing," she said. "And it worked."

Seattle Times staff reporter Sherry Stripling contributed to this report. Natalie Singer: 206-464-2704 or

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company


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