Mike Perdue, one of four people who died in a light-commuter plane crash near Beaver Island Saturday, shielded his daughter during it, Ryan Wojan told CNN.
“He cradled her in his arms,” Wojan said. “She doesn’t remember anything, except for her daddy squeezing her so hard.”
The 11-year-old is the sole survivor.
All of her injuries were on the opposite side of where her dad was sitting in the plane, said Wojan, who has been in close contact with Perdue’s wife since the accident.
Perdue’s wife “wanted to be sure that everyone knew who he was and how he gave his life for his daughter,” Wojan said. The couple has four children.
The girl, who remains hospitalized, suffered several fractures and has undergone two surgeries but none of her injuries are life-threatening, Wojan added.
Two of the deceased, Kate Leese and Adam Kendall, were taking their dogs to the vet in the plane, a family member told CNN. Both animals died in the crash, authorities said over the weekend.
Charlevoix County Sheriff Lieutenant William Church said the pilot was the fourth victim. He has not been identified.
In recent Instagram posts, the couple shared photos of their dogs and flights over the island.
Amanda Danielle Leese, Kate’s sister, told CNN the couple was destined for great things.
“Kate and Adam were meant for each other. They lived 20 lives in the time they knew each other. Kate was larger than life,” Leese said. “She wanted to experience the world. She wanted to taste it. She wanted to explore it and Adam was right there with her.”
Avid fishermen and hunters, Wojan and Perdue were meeting on Beaver Island for the opening day of firearm deer season. The girl was going to meet a family friend for the weekend, Wojan told CNN.
Wojan flew to Beaver Island three hours before the Perdues on the same plane.
Perdue was the managing broker and co-owner of Smith Realty Group, with Wojan.
“He was always a giver… and was such an important part of the community,” Wojan said.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said the Britton-Norman BN2P plane crashed around 2:30 p.m. ET.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the crash, the FAA said.