Sailor Gutzler, 7-Year-Old Girl, Survives Plane Crash That Killed Her Family
Sailor Gutzler, 7, miraculously survived a plane crash in Kentucky this weekend that killed four members of her family, including her mother and father.
7-Year-Old Sole Survivor Of Plane Crash
Sailor was flying from Key West, Fla., to Mount Vernon, Ill., on Friday with her mother, Kimberly Gutzler, father Marty Gutzler, nine-year-old sister, Piper Guzler, and her 14-year-old cousin, Sierra Wilder. Marty Gutzler, an experienced pilot and flight instructor, was flying the family home from a Christmas vacation in his Piper PA-34, a small private aircraft that seats five.
Gutzler reportedly issued a distress call before the crash, reporting engine problems amid bad weather conditions and notifying air traffic control that he was changing his route to Kentucky Dam State Airport. The crash occurred less than 10 miles from the airport in a wooded area in Lyon County.
Sailor Gutzler Walked To Safety
Sailor, the only survivor of the crash, managed to free herself from the wreckage and set out to find help. Barefoot and dressed in nothing but shorts and a t-shirt, she made her way through the woods and 30-degree cold, walking three quarters of a mile before reaching the home of Larry Wilkins at around 6:30 p.m. “She just said, ‘My mom and dad are dead. We just had a plane crash and the plane was upside down,’” Wilkins told CNN.
Forty minutes after air traffic control lost contact with Gutzler’s aircraft, the police received a call from Wilkins, 71, reporting Sailor’s trauma. “Her little legs were cut up from the bottom of her little shorts to the tip of her toes,” Wilkins recounted.
Wilkins said that the girl was shaken up, cold and suffering from what appeared to be a few broken bones. “I just feel so sorry for that little girl, I can’t understand it. I just can’t imagine [going through] that, for someone that young,” Wilkins added.
Sailor was taken to Lourdes Hospital while authorities searched the crash site, finding all four other passengers dead at the scene. The bodies were removed from the scene early Saturday morning; around the same time Sailor was released form the hospital. She is reportedly in the care of family members, though the exact relation is unknown.
“The Gutzler family mourns the loss of Marty, Kim and Piper Gutzler and Sierra Wilder. We are devastated by this loss, but are confident that they rest in God’s loving arms. WE ask that you respect our privacy at this difficult time. Please pray for us, especially for Sailor Gutzler,” reads a statement from Kent Plotner, an attorney representing the Gutzler family. An online fund has been set up for Sailor to help “obtain the emotional, physical and educational support she will need in the years to come.”
Sailor reportedly used survival skills taught to her by her father to find help. After emerging from the crash into a dark wood, she lit a twig with fire from the wreckage to help find her way and walked through uneven terrain, including what authorities describe as a 12-foot deep creek bed.
The cause of the crash remains a mystery, but investigators are examining the scene and the wreckage to determine what happened.