MINNEAPOLIS - The sole survivor of a deadly plane crash originally blamed on pilot error is speaking out in a YouTube video, saying "It's safe to say I've been to hell and back."
Her story about what caused the crash may anger - and inspire - you.
Three people were killed in the 2005 Easter Sunday in West Union, Iowa. But remarkably Caryn Ann Stewart survived.
Just 8-years-old at the time, Caryl lost her mother Connie, her sister Sarah, and her cousin Andy Bryan, who was piloting the small private plane.
Now 17, Caryn's YouTube video describes the horror of the fiery crash that left her burned over 75 percent of her body - and her agonizing recovery.
Documents obtained by KARE 11 and our partners at USA Today show that investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board blamed Andy, her cousin, for the crash. The NTSB cited the "pilot's failure to abort the take-off" as the cause.
But our investigation found something the government investigators apparently missed.
Caryn and her father, Brian Stewart, sued the aircraft manufacturer. During a long legal battle they turned up evidence that the engine maker had known about carburetor problems for years. Those problems could cause the engine to stall unexpectedly - a potentially deadly defect, especially in flight.
"If you are at 24-thousand feet and your engine quits, you can't pull over to the side of the road," says aviation attorney Bruce Lampert.
In Iowa, the engine stalled on take-off. Court documents revealed that similar carburetor problems had been linked to earlier crashes. But there's no mention of carburetor failure in the NTSB crash report.
Caryn and her family settled their law suit for $19 million, much of it to pay for her past surgeries and continued medical care.
Officials from NTSB say they are committed to safety.
And in a written release today GAMA - a group representing private plane manufacturers - called USA Today's investigation "sensationalistic."
But critics say, too often, government investigators are blaming pilots, and missing hidden mechanical defects.
"You can't blame six pilots in a row for the same mistake," says attorney Lampert. "There is something else going on."
But Caryn Stewart's story is more about survival than tragedy.
Even though she endured seven different reconstructive surgeries, she's battled back.
She still has visible scars. But she tells the world in her YouTube video she's an active teenager who's fought her way through hell - and back.
"The moral of the story," she says as some of her favorite music plays in the background, "just because you've gone through hell doesn't mean you can't get back from it."
Her plane crash is just one example of the problems USA Today has found. You can read their entire report here.