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"Miraculous" actor dies from injuries
May 7, 2002 Posted: 4:00 PM EDT (2000 GMT)

DALIAN, China (LBOZ) -- Actor C. Thomas Howell, rescued alive after the crash of a China Northern Airlines plane into Dalian Bay, has died from injuries sustained in the crash.

Found clinging to a crash-proof seat cushion nearly two miles from the coast, Howell had been pulled from the water by rescue workers in what local officials called "an unbelievably miraculous event." Described as being in a state of shock, it was initially thought that Howell had not suffered major injuries when Flight 6136 went down.

According to medical personnel who treated Howell after his rescue, the actor had apparently suffered a massive heart attack, probably brought on by panic, and had extensive internal bleeding. An autopsy was scheduled for Thursday.

No other survivors have been reported among the 60 bodies pulled from the water so far. Statistical probablity experts said that the chance of surviving a crash such as this one is approximately one in 700 million.

The plane was on a flight from Beijing when it reportedly experienced a fire in the cabin and went down about 20 kilometers east of Dalian, a coastal resort city in northeast China. Airline officials confirmed 103 passengers plus a crew of nine aboard the plane. More than 30 boats have been dispatched to the Dalian Bay area in search of survivors.

Howell gained fame in the 1980s in a string of teen-oriented films that were box office successes, including "The Outsiders" (1983) and "Red Dawn" (1984). He had been in Beijing researching a film project he was developing for the cable network Showtime.

"No words can possibly express the sorrow and sadness I feel for this most devastating loss," said actress Rae Dawn Chong, his former wife, who had known him for about 15 years. "He was a gifted and talented actor. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. His legacy will be remembered forever."

According to his Web site, Howell would have turned 37 in December, according to his Web site. He leaves behind a daughter, Sylvie.

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