- Associated Press - Sunday, September 9, 2012

Writer Richard Bach, author of the inspirational best-seller “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” is able to speak a few words and respond to simple commands as he remains hospitalized in intensive care more than a week after his small plane went down in Washington state.

The 76-year-old Bach continued to recover from head and shoulder injuries Sunday at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, but the healing process has been slow, his son said in an email to The Associated Press.

James Bach described his father as in “sort of a daze” from the Aug. 31 accident in which his small plane flipped over after hitting power lines on San Juan Island.

“Actually I’m learning that consciousness is not an all or nothing thing,” James Bach said of his father’s gradually improving condition. “Although he can say a few words and respond to simple commands, he does not seem to know why he’s in the hospital. It’s possible that, at any moment, he may snap into lucidity.”

Shortly after the crash, family members believed he already was lucid, but that turned out not to be the case. “My sister has since spent some time with him and we think we have a much better idea of how he is,” the younger Bach said.

A nursing supervisor said Bach was listed in serious condition, as he has been since the day after the crash.

Last week, federal investigators posted a preliminary incident report, which noted that the plane struck power lines but does not include any more detail on what caused the accident.

James Bach, who has visited the site about three miles from a small airport where his father was going to land, believes it was the fact that several power lines in the area are of varying thickness and visibility, which may have fooled his father, an experienced aviator.

“You can hardly see them. I also flew over the site and I couldn’t see them from the air. We think he mistook the thick black wires in the distance for the ones that he was actually warned about,” he said.

Richard Bach is best known for “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” a tale published in 1970 of a gull seeking to rise above the conventions of his flock. Simply written and immensely popular, the short book was a New York Times best-seller and landed Bach a cover on Time magazine, along with loyal following of readers. Other notable works include the “Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah” about a Midwestern barnstorming pilot with a unusual gift.

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