UB student fights for life after plane crashes into home

Hannah Bocker’s brother, UB community describe her as humble, intelligent and a fighter

hannah-solo-shot

Hannah Bocker, a junior civil, structural and environmental engineering major, sustained life-threatening injuries when a twin-engine Cessna 303 aircraft crashed into her home on Aug. 17 in Union Vale, N.Y.

 This happened just a week before she was getting ready to make the seven-hour road trip back to Buffalo to begin her junior year with her father, Gerard Bocker, who died on impact in the crash.

 “Hannah is still with us, and she will continue to fight,” Wil Bocker, Hannah’s brother, said. “She won’t let this change her mindset or determination one bit, she’s still going to be exactly who she always was, stubborn as all hell for sure, and a testament to perseverance.”

The plane crashed into the Bockers’ home just after 4 p.m., killing Gerard and the pilot of the plane on impact, while Sarah Bocker, Hannah’s sister who was also in the house at the time of the crash, only sustained minor injuries. Hannah is in critical condition at Westchester Medical Center but her breathing improved on Sep. 3, according to the Facebook page Sarah updates daily. The crash remains under investigation. 

 Wil said growing up, though three years apart, he and Hannah were “joined at the hip.”

 “She was my best friend, we would go to harvest festivals, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, get apple cider donuts, stomp down at the creek by our house and catch frogs,” Wil said. “We always had a lot of fun together.”

 Wil knows Hannah as “painfully intelligent” and one of the most humble people he has ever met. 

He recalled one of the last conversations he had with his father, who told him Hannah was in the driveway replacing her own exhaust system on her car.

 “She learned a lot about things she didn’t know how to do beforehand, and that was her push, her drive,” Wil said.

Hannah loves her cat, brain games, puzzles, reading, geometric art, drawing and building, according to Wil. She also loves Buffalo.

“My dad first took Hannah up to Buffalo and they both fell in love,” Wil said. “I don’t know how many times my dad came back from Buffalo and was like, ‘You know, it’s a really nice town up there, you should check it out some time.’”

Anthony Tessari, Hannah’s advisor at UB, said he remembers his first advisement meeting with Hannah, when she walked in with a “meticulously organized” binder.

“The binder contained her career aspirations, courses mapped out through her senior year, plans to join student clubs and a well thought-out list of questions to ask,” Tessari said. “I still remember thinking I was probably the one who needed advice in that meeting.”


Courtesy of Wil Bocker

Hannah Bocker and her father, Gerard Bocker, who died on impact in the crash.


Luis Hernandez, a family friend who grew up on the same street in the Bronx with Gerard, said Hannah took the brunt of the injuries but he’s grateful she survived.

 “It’s everyone’s worst nightmare, the family is so displaced right now and we’re all concerned about their welfare,” Hernandez said. “I wouldn’t wish this upon my worst enemy.”

 Hernandez remembered Gerard as “the most considerate person” who sent him a care package when he moved to Toronto.

 “It was from the bottom of his heart, it was so kind and caring because that’s the type of person he was. And his children inherited that,” Hernandez said.


Courtesy of Luis Hernandez

Hannah Bocker and her brother, Wil Bocker. Wil said growing up him and Hannah were attached at the hip.


 Loved ones set up a Facebook fundraiser for the family where people can donate to help pay for Hannah’s medical bills and for the family to find a new home.

 Thirty people have already raised $1,409 out of the $500,000 goal to support the family, as of Sunday afternoon, just five days into the fundraiser.

“Whatever anyone feels heartfelt to donate would be huge for her and the family and just send prayers and support in a time like this,” Wil said. “We’re all humble people and are extremely grateful for any contributions, whether it be physically, spiritually or financially.”

Wil said Hannah is “the strength everybody should look toward” when they’re going through tough times, because she survived something she “never should have.”

“Things are serious, but she’s as tenacious as ever,” Wil said. “She’s got a long road ahead of her, but she’s a fighter.” 

Brittany Gorny is the senior news editor and can be reached at brittany.gorny@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @BrittanyUBSpec.