'Miracle' Girl, 11, Released from Hospital Nearly 3 Weeks After Dad Died Saving Her in Plane Crash

·3 min read
Mike and Laney Perdue
Mike and Laney Perdue

CaringBridge Mike and Laney Perdue

An 11-year-old girl is on the road to recovery after surviving a horrific plane crash in Michigan thanks to the heroic actions of her father.

Laney Perdue has spent the last two and a half weeks at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital and Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital recovering from injuries that she sustained in the Nov. 13 plane crash, according to NBC affiliate WOOD-TV.

Her mom, Christie Perdue, told the outlet that while Laney suffered 11 broken bones in the crash, she is fortunate to be alive — and finally headed home from the hospital.

"We've gone from no walking to a wheelchair to a walker and now to crutches. Her goal was to go home on crutches," Christie said ahead of her daughter's release on Wednesday. "She's Laney, she's great and she's our miracle."

It'll be a bittersweet return to their Gaylord home, as the family faces their new reality of life without their father and husband, Mike Perdue.

Mike Perdue
Mike Perdue

GoFundMe Mike Perdue

RELATED: Michigan Girl, 11, Who Survived Plane Crash That Killed 4 Others Was Saved by Her Dad: 'He Cradled Her'

"When we go home, we know that we'll see all of Mike's things and we'll have to work through that," Christie told WOOD-TV.

Mike was one of four people who was killed in the plane crash, which unfolded around 1:30 p.m. local time on Beaver Island in northern Lake Michigan, PEOPLE previously reported.

Mike's friend, Ryan Wojan, later told CNN that Laney — who was the sole survivor of the crash — was shielded by her father before the plane went down. His actions ultimately saved her life, as Wojan noted that all of Laney's injuries occurred on the opposite side of where Mike had been seated on the plane.

"He cradled her in his arms," Wojan told CNN. "She doesn't remember anything, except for her daddy squeezing her so hard."

"I know in my heart that he protected her … and she knows it too," Christie added to WOOD-TV on Tuesday. "That's really her last memory is just that big bear hug from dad."

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Following the crash, Laney was airlifted to a hospital and later transported to Helen DeVos Children's Hospital via ambulance, according to a GoFundMe page that was set up on behalf of the family.

At the time, the young girl was said to be "alert and talking and was able to tell them her mom's name and phone number," the GoFundMe stated.

Recalling the moment she learned of the crash, Christie told WOOD-TV that she immediately rushed to the hospital with little information about her daughter.

"I knew that my husband had died when I got to the hospital, but I didn't know anything about [Laney]," she recalled. "So the fact that she's here and the fact that she's walking and talking and will make a full recovery … is a miracle."

RELATED: 4 Dead, 11-Year-Old Girl in Critical Condition After Small Plane Crash on Lake Michigan's Beaver Island

As they head home for the first time since the crash, Christie said their family is leaning into the support from their community, which includes letters and over $163,000 raised on the GoFundMe.

"Our community has just surrounded us with love," she told WOOD-TV. "Laney's getting letters from schools all over Michigan, letters from New York and Minnesota and we are just so grateful."

The family also plans to honor Mike with a funeral service this month — and will one day return to Beaver Island, according to the outlet.

"When we're all ready, we will definitely fly again," said Christie, who is from the island and owns a cottage there. "We will go to Beaver Island. That's our home and Mike will be buried there."