KEY POINTS

  • 11-year-old lone survivor in plane crash that killed 4 on Michigan's Beaver Island
  • Laney was protected by her father’s “big, bear hugs,” heartbroken mother revealed
  • Authorities are investigating the incident to determine what caused the crash

The very last memory an 11-year-old girl has of her late father is that of him wrapping his arms around her during a plane crash Saturday. The tragedy on Beaver Island, Michigan, killed four people flying in the light-commuter plane, leaving the little girl, Laney, as the lone survivor.

“Her last memory is her dad just grabbed her and held her really, really tight,” said Laney’s mother, Christie Perdue, in a Tuesday interview with ABC News transportation correspondent Gio Benitez.

Laney survived the crash with injuries only on one side of her body while the other side, protected by her father’s “big, bear hugs,” remained uninjured, Christie revealed.

Laney’s father, Mike Perdue, died in the crash along with the pilot and two other victims, Kate Leese and Adam Kendall. Leese and Kendall were traveling on the plane with their dogs to visit the vet; sadly, the animals were also killed in the crash that occurred at the Welke Airport on Beaver Island.

Christie reflected on how her daughter survived the devastating plane crash that killed her husband, and said it was “such a tragedy and such a miracle.”

Three hours before the father and daughter departed from Charlevoix for their journey, Perdue's business partner Ryan Wojan was flown in to Beaver Island on the very same plane and was planning to meet Perdue there. They had co-owned Smith Realty with Wojan, and the two passionate fishermen and hunters decided to meet on Beaver Island for the opening day of firearm deer season.

“He was always a giver... and was such an important part of the community,” Wojan told CNN.

Wojan also spoke about how Perdue spent the last moments of his life shielding his daughter as the plane crashed. “He cradled her in his arms. She doesn't remember anything, except for her daddy squeezing her so hard,” he said.

Wojan has been in touch with Perdue’s wife and said she “wanted to be sure that everyone knew who he was and how he gave his life for his daughter.”

Laney is one of the Perdue couple’s four children and is currently recovering at the children's hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Having suffered several fractures, she underwent two surgeries and is believed to be out of harm’s way.

Laney is “is such a trouper. She has five broken bones all over the place, but she is amazing and she's inspiring,” Christie said to ABC News.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are still investigating to determine what caused the crash that killed Laney’s father, the three other victims, and the two dogs.

father-gc22d3b6be_1920 Representational Image Photo: Credit: Pixabay