- Sailor Gutzler was only survivor when private plane crashed in Kentucky
- Mother, father, nine-year-old sister and 14-year-old cousin were killed
- Sailor dragged herself out upside-down wreckage with broken bones
- Walked 0.75 miles barefoot through thorns with stick lit by the flames
- Arrived at home of Larry Wilkins, 71, at 6.30pm local time in Kuttawa, KY
- Family had been flying home to Mount Vernon, IL, from Key West, FL
Mia De Graaf
Jill Reilly For Dailymail.com
The seven-year-old girl who survived a plane crash that killed everyone else on board used a stick lit with fire to find her way through 0.75 miles of thorny woodland to find help.
Sailor Gutzler dragged herself out of the private twin-engine plane on Friday evening with broken bones to see her mother, father, sister and cousin were dead.
Bloodied and traumatized, she used the burning wreckage to fashion a makeshift torch to guide her way through the Kentucky forest until she saw a light on in a house.
The dramatic details of Sailor’s night come from 71-year-old Larry Wilkins: the man who opened his door at 6.30pm (7.30pm ET) to find the little girl shaken on his porch.
Found her way: Sailor Gutzler, seven, walked barefoot with broken bones through thorns in the dark to find help
Survivor: Her parents, sister and cousin had died, and she used a stick lit by flames to guide her through
Shocked: Larry Wilkins found Sailor on his doorstep and took her in before calling 911
‘I opened the door and this little girl was standing there with bloody nose, bloody legs and bloody arms,’ Mr Wilkins told NBC.
‘Her voice was quivering. She told me her mom and dad were dead and she was in a plane crash and the plane was upside down.
‘She was bleeding pretty bad, her legs were bleeding, her face had a bloody nose.
‘She was barefoot, only had one sock on.
‘She asked if she could stay here,’ Wilkins recalled.
He immediately called 911 and then went to work cleaning up the bloodied girl with a washcloth.
When police arrived, the little girl was so shaken up she could hardly make herself understood.
‘I felt so sorry for her, tears come my eyes,’ said Wilkins who described the little girl’s journey as ‘very, very rough territory.’
The plane had taken off from Key West in Florida, where Sailor was visiting her adult brother Nick Brink with father, Marty Gutzler, 49, mother Kimberly Gutzler, 45, her nine-year-old daughter, Piper, and her cousin 14-year-old Sierra Wilder.
They were heading home to Mount Vernon, Illinois, when the plane reported engine troubles.
The crash killed everyone on board except for Sailor.
Lieutenant Brent White of Kentucky State Police said the situation was extraordinary.
Family torn apart: Kentucky State Police have identified the four victims of Friday’s small plane crash as Marty Gutzler (right), 49, wife Kim Gutzler, 45, daughter Piper (pictured), 9, and 14-year-old cousin, Sierra Wilder
Tight-knit: The family of four are from Nashville, Tennessee, and were on Florida on vacation. Pictured: The family present Mr Gutzler with a plane cake on his birthday
Crash: This Piper PA-34-200T owned by an Illinois doctor crashed in rural southwestern Kentucky Friday, killing four people on board. A 7-year-old girl walked away from the crash with only minor injuries
Tragic couple: Mr and Mrs Gutzler flew to Key West earlier this week to celebrate New Year’s Eve with their family
‘She literally fell out of the sky into a dark hole and didn’t have anybody but her own will to live and get help for her family,’ White told the Associated Press. ‘Absolutely amazing.’
He told NBC: ‘She’s upside down in an aircraft that’s crash-landed, she is in shorts and a t-shirt, she’s seven years old, she has broken bones, she pulls herself out of the aircraft, she’s in a place where she doesn’t see any lights, she walks through thorns, briers, a 12-foot ditch, and continues to walk in that environment with no shoes on until she sees a light on in a house.’
The family who died in a plane crash in Kentucky were traveling home from visiting their son at a naval base in Florida when their plane went down near KY 810 South in Lyon County.
Family friend Troy Dunbar, who worked at Mr Gutzler’s furniture store in Nashville, IL, told Heartland News, Mrs Gutlzer’s adult son, Nick Brink, is in the military stationed in Key West and the family were coming back from visiting for the holidays.
A spokesman for the family, Kent Plotner, issued a statement Saturday afternoon that read: ‘The Gutzler family mourns the loss of Marty, Kim and Piper Gutzler and Sienna Wilder.
‘We are devastated by this loss, but are confident that they rest in God’s loving arms. Please pray for us, especially for Sailor Gutzler.’
Sgt. Dean Patterson of the Kentucky State Police says the FAA received a distress call at 5.55pm from a private plane in the area around the time the girl reported the crash to a resident.
A photo Mr Gutzler took of his daughters inside the plane a few days before the tragic accident
Brave: The couple’s 7-year-old daughter Sailor (left) survived the crash and was able to climb out of the wreckage and go for help, although her older sister (both right) died
The resident called 911 at 6.30pm and the seven-year-old was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries – she has now been released.
According to local reports, the aircraft was flying from Key West, Florida, to Mt Vernon, Illinois, at the time of the accident.
The FAA Memphis Center confirmed that there was a distress call from a private plane in the area of the crash.
The last contact was at 1,800 feet.
Kathleen Bergen of the FAA says air traffic controllers lost contact with a Piper PA-34-200T as it was flying over Marshall County in the southwestern part of the state.
The pilot had reported engine problems.
‘I’ve got an 8-year-old child myself, that just turned 8-years-old. And when I saw this [what] appeared to be a 7-year-old child that walked through this dense Forrest,’ Lieutenant Brent White with the Kentucky State Police told KFVS.
‘Through some really tough terrain. Awful poor weather conditions – and survive this, it’s just really a miracle.’
Orphaned: When the sole survivor of the crash (pictured right with her face obscured) went for help in Kentucky, she told a Good Samaritan her mother (pictured left and right) was among the deceased
Daddy’s little girl: Piper Gutzler is pictured here with her father, Marty, who also perished in the crash
Proud owner: Dr Alan Froehling, a physician from Illinois, is pictured with one of his small planes. The downed aircraft was registered to him, but it remains unknown if he was on board the plane
Kentucky State Police Lt. White said emergency crews ‘ worked tirelessly to find this wreckage and hopefully salvage the lives of those that were on board. But, ultimately, it just wasn’t meant to be.’
Mr Dunbar said Mr Gutzler had been flying since he was 16 and was a very experienced pilot.
A longtime friend of the Gutzlers, Patrick Povolish, 61, told the St Louis Post Dispatch: ‘This is a small community where everybody knows everybody and this will be devastating for the whole town.
A photo on Facebook from his birthday shows Mr Gutzler with his wife and two young girls next to a plane birthday cake
Daily Mail can now reveal that the plane was registered to Dr Alan Froehling, a neuromusucular orthopedic from Mt Vernon, Illinois.
According to Keith Todd with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, the aircraft landed deep in a heavily wooded, remote area off of Buckberry Trail.
Fire is seen from the scene of the plane crash. The pilot had reported engine problems before it went down
Kentucky State Police Lt. White said emergency crews ‘ worked tirelessly to find this wreckage and hopefully salvage the lives of those that were on board. But, ultimately, it just wasn’t meant to be’
The aircraft landed deep in a heavily wooded, remote area off of Buckberry Trail
Rugged terrain: Officials located the downed aircraft near KY 810 South in rural Lyon County
The home of Larry Wilkins sits nestled in the woods – the Sailor walked to his home for help
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