Man who survived plane crash that killed 137 people when he was 12 years old reveals how he survived

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By Nasima Khatun

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A man who survived a plane crash that resulted in the deaths of 137 people revealed how he survived the ordeal.

Richard Laver was only 12 years old when he was involved in one of America's deadliest plane crashes.

The Delta Flight 191 crash in 1985 saw the deaths of 137 people including passengers and crew members after the aircraft encountered a "microburst while attempting to pass through a rain shaft underneath a convective storm cell," as per a report published by the Federal Aviation Administration.

This caused the aircraft to land in a field that was 6,000 feet short of the runway, striking a car on a highway, while also hitting two water tanks before breaking apart and bursting into flames.

Credit: Bettmann/Getty

Out of the 163 passengers on board, 134 died at the scene and a further two passed away due to their injuries later on. The driver of the car that was struck also lost his life in the tragic crash.

Almost 40 years on from the tragedy, Laver is now giving his recollection of the event in his own words via PEOPLE.

In the piece, the former tennis junior recalls having nightmares a few days before he was set to board the aircraft, telling his mom that he thinks the plane is going to "crash".

While she brushed it off as a " one-in-a-million chance", it seems as though Laver's nightmares were warning the then-child of the disaster that was to unfold on board the Lockheed L-1011.

"Everybody in my aisle died, as did almost everyone else on the plane," Laver recalled. "But I flew out through the explosion and landed in a nearby field, whipped by 70 mph winds. Golf-ball-sized hail was hitting me. My face had been burned. I couldn't move or speak. I couldn’t yell for help. I later learned that I was ejected from the plane at almost 300 mph - 50 yards through the air."

Credit: Bettmann/Getty

As he lay there struggling to breathe, a man pulled over in his truck and yanked the little boy out of the water that was pooling around him thanks to the storm.

He was transferred to Parkland Memorial’s burn unit for treatment along with multiple other survivors who had also been burned by the fire.

Despite the youngster getting better and physically healing form his injuries, the mental trauma he faced dragged him to the depths of anxiety and depression.

That was until he met his now-wife Michelle at a club in Palm Springs where he was a tennis pro. At the time, she was going through a divorce and had three kids of her own, to who he offered tennis lessons and the rest was history.

The couple went on to have a child of their own, a daughter called Katie.

"But soon after, the doctors came to us and said Katie had suffered a stroke in utero," he wrote. "What ended up happening was I was a happy father with a daughter with cerebral palsy. There was one more challenge: She kept losing weight. 

"I knew if I lost Katie, that was the final bullet. I was not going to make it. I knew by saving Kate, I would also be saving myself," he added.

Despite his daughter being on 3,000 calories a day, she was not gaining weight, so after lots of research, Laver developed a plant-based formula to aid in her health.

"She went down to 1,600 calories a day on the formula and gained weight," he continued. "Within 30 days, she was off 90% of her medications. She's turning 18 in July and has never been sick."

This led to him starting his business.

"I started Kate Farms and and it became the No. 1 recommended plant-based formula company in the world, and it's now saved a lot of kids and families from the anguish that we went through," he stated, before adding: "My story is a guy survives a plane crash, saves his daughter’s life and it’s a wonderful life. But I wanted to tell a last story, about a guy who gets lucky. It’s not a beverage company to me. It tells the story about never giving up and believing in yourself."

Laver's story is a truly remarkable one and we're so happy he's found his purpose in life after such a traumatic childhood.

Fancy yourself a gamer? Think you can top our leaderboard? Then check out the new VT Games! From thrilling puzzles to classic card games, there's something new to play every day!
Featured Image Credit: Xijian/Getty

Man who survived plane crash that killed 137 people when he was 12 years old reveals how he survived

vt-author-image

By Nasima Khatun

Article saved!Article saved!

A man who survived a plane crash that resulted in the deaths of 137 people revealed how he survived the ordeal.

Richard Laver was only 12 years old when he was involved in one of America's deadliest plane crashes.

The Delta Flight 191 crash in 1985 saw the deaths of 137 people including passengers and crew members after the aircraft encountered a "microburst while attempting to pass through a rain shaft underneath a convective storm cell," as per a report published by the Federal Aviation Administration.

This caused the aircraft to land in a field that was 6,000 feet short of the runway, striking a car on a highway, while also hitting two water tanks before breaking apart and bursting into flames.

Credit: Bettmann/Getty

Out of the 163 passengers on board, 134 died at the scene and a further two passed away due to their injuries later on. The driver of the car that was struck also lost his life in the tragic crash.

Almost 40 years on from the tragedy, Laver is now giving his recollection of the event in his own words via PEOPLE.

In the piece, the former tennis junior recalls having nightmares a few days before he was set to board the aircraft, telling his mom that he thinks the plane is going to "crash".

While she brushed it off as a " one-in-a-million chance", it seems as though Laver's nightmares were warning the then-child of the disaster that was to unfold on board the Lockheed L-1011.

"Everybody in my aisle died, as did almost everyone else on the plane," Laver recalled. "But I flew out through the explosion and landed in a nearby field, whipped by 70 mph winds. Golf-ball-sized hail was hitting me. My face had been burned. I couldn't move or speak. I couldn’t yell for help. I later learned that I was ejected from the plane at almost 300 mph - 50 yards through the air."

Credit: Bettmann/Getty

As he lay there struggling to breathe, a man pulled over in his truck and yanked the little boy out of the water that was pooling around him thanks to the storm.

He was transferred to Parkland Memorial’s burn unit for treatment along with multiple other survivors who had also been burned by the fire.

Despite the youngster getting better and physically healing form his injuries, the mental trauma he faced dragged him to the depths of anxiety and depression.

That was until he met his now-wife Michelle at a club in Palm Springs where he was a tennis pro. At the time, she was going through a divorce and had three kids of her own, to who he offered tennis lessons and the rest was history.

The couple went on to have a child of their own, a daughter called Katie.

"But soon after, the doctors came to us and said Katie had suffered a stroke in utero," he wrote. "What ended up happening was I was a happy father with a daughter with cerebral palsy. There was one more challenge: She kept losing weight. 

"I knew if I lost Katie, that was the final bullet. I was not going to make it. I knew by saving Kate, I would also be saving myself," he added.

Despite his daughter being on 3,000 calories a day, she was not gaining weight, so after lots of research, Laver developed a plant-based formula to aid in her health.

"She went down to 1,600 calories a day on the formula and gained weight," he continued. "Within 30 days, she was off 90% of her medications. She's turning 18 in July and has never been sick."

This led to him starting his business.

"I started Kate Farms and and it became the No. 1 recommended plant-based formula company in the world, and it's now saved a lot of kids and families from the anguish that we went through," he stated, before adding: "My story is a guy survives a plane crash, saves his daughter’s life and it’s a wonderful life. But I wanted to tell a last story, about a guy who gets lucky. It’s not a beverage company to me. It tells the story about never giving up and believing in yourself."

Laver's story is a truly remarkable one and we're so happy he's found his purpose in life after such a traumatic childhood.

Fancy yourself a gamer? Think you can top our leaderboard? Then check out the new VT Games! From thrilling puzzles to classic card games, there's something new to play every day!
Featured Image Credit: Xijian/Getty