(KUTTAWA, Ky.) — Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board have spoken to the 7-year-old girl who survived a plane crash in which four of her family members were killed, calling her “one remarkable young lady.”
NTSB investigator Heidi Moats on Sunday offered no details as to what may have caused the small plane to crash late Friday in Kuttawa, Kentucky. She spent several hours at the crash site and said the NTSB planned to remove the wreckage later in the day.
Sailor Gutzler suffered a broken bone in her wrist in the crash, which killed her parents, older sister, and cousin, said Kentucky State Police Lt. Brent White. The girl tried lighting a glow or torch stick to help illuminate her way out of the dense woods where the plane crashed, but the stick failed to light.
White said the girl freed herself from the aircraft and walked about 15 to 20 minutes toward a light coming from the home of Larry Wilkins, who called 911 when she arrived.
“She navigated thick trees, briers, and bushes to get to the home,” said White.
White added that the girl “was dressed for Florida,” wearing shorts and a short sleeve shirt despite the temperature being 38 degrees. The family was headed to their hometown of Nashville, Illinois, at the time.
“”She didn’t have very much clothing on at all,” said White.
Gutzler’s parents, Marty Gutzler, 48, and his wife Kimberly Gutzler, 46; her sister, Piper Gutzler, 9; and, her cousin, Sierra Wilder, 14, were all killed in the crash.
It’s unclear what caused the crash, but Marty Gutzler reported engine problems before losing contact with air traffic controllers.
Federal Aviation Administration records show that Gutzler was an experienced commercial pilot and certified flight instructor.
The Gutzlers owned a furniture store in Nashville, Illinois. Fred Prug, a family friend, said Marty had made the same trip to Florida before.
“He loved flying,” said Prug. “You didn’t have a conversation with Marty without him talking about flying.”
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