Lyon County, Kentucky-- Larry Wilkins was startled Friday night when he opened his front door to find a seven-year-old girl standing in front of him, shivering in shorts and only one sock on. The little girl told Wilkins that her name is Sailor Gutzler; she had been in a plane crash; her parents and her cousin were dead.
Earlier Friday, Sailor, her parents, her sister, and her cousin departed from Key West, Florida in a Piper PA-34 plane bound for Mount Vernon, Illinois. Sailor’s father Marty was at the controls. When the family was flying over western Kentucky, something went wrong with the plane. Marty Gutzler told air traffic controllers the aircraft was having engine problems, and that he intended to divert to Kentucky Dam State Airport. According to CNN, contact with the aircraft was lost a short time later.
The small plane crashed in Lyon County, roughly 10 miles away from the Gutzler’s intended destination. With scratches all over her body and a bloody nose, Sailor somehow pulled herself from the wreckage and walked nearly a mile in rough terrain to Wilkins’ front door. He brought her inside, sat her on the couch, and called 911.
Emergency responders arrived at the crash scene hoping to find other survivors, but everyone that remained aboard the Piper PA-34 was dead. The deceased were identified as 48-year-old Marty Gutzler; 46-year-old Kimberly Gutzler; 9-year-old Piper Gutzler; and Sailor’s cousin Sierra Wilder, 14.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) dispatched officials to western Kentucky to begin an investigation. NTSB officials will take a couple of days to investigate the crash site before it is moved. A preliminary report on the cause of Friday’s crash is expected in the coming weeks.