NASHVILLE, IL (KTVI) -Only one member of a Southern Illinois family survived a small plane crash Friday night in western Kentucky. Despite a broken wrist, seven year old Sailor Gutzler managed to climb from the plane wreckage and make her way through dense woods to a home where she found help.
“I opened the door and this little girl, seven years old had a bloody nose, arms scratched up, legs eat up and she told me ‘Mom and Dad are dead; we had a plane crash and the plane is upside down,” the homeowner Larry Wilkins said.
The child comes from a well-known family in Nashville, a town about fifty miles southeast of St. Louis. Her parents, Marty and Kim Gutzler, a nine-year old sister Piper and a cousin Sienna Wilder were killed in the crash. They had been returning from a family holiday in Florida.
Friends in Nashville describe Marty Gutzler as an experienced pilot who loved to fly. He had reported engine troubles just before six pm.
Lt. Brent White of the Kentucky State Police said, “It appears the aircraft struck numerous trees over an amount of time before it became inverted and landed upside down in the woods.”
White said he was amazed the little girl had managed to survive the walk through the forest. “It’s just really a miracle,” he said.
A family spokesman issued a statement saying: “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. We ask that you respect our privacy at this difficult time. Please pray for us, especially for Sailor Gutzler.”
The Federal Aviation Administration investigators were on the scene Saturday. It could be more than a year before they complete their investigation into the crash.
Investigators with National Transportation Safety Board are at the crash site Saturday evening looking for clues as to what caused the tragic accident.
NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway says, “The NTSB does not determine cause at this early point in the investigation anything other than being on scene and collecting information. It would be speculative and we do not speculate therefore and investigating like this can take 12 to 18 months before we determine a cause but we will collect as much information, evidence as possible while we’re on scene and once we leave scene the work analyzing that information will begin.
Additional NTSB investigators will be heading to the crash site Sunday.