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Sailor Gutzler Survivor Of Family Plane Crash

by Holly Hofstead - The Oregon Herald Sunday January 4, 2015    11:31 AM

The 7-year-old girl who walked away from a small plane crash in western Kentucky used survival skills learned from her father. Four members of her family where killed in the crash.

Sailor Gutzler was the only survivor after her family's Piper twin-engine aircraft landed upside down in a wooded area in Lyon County on Friday, leaving her parents, sister and cousin dead. The resourceful girl was able to climb out of the devastating wreckage, lit a stick from the burning wing and with bleeding, and with broken bones, she was able to walk through the cold darkness to survive.

Second-grader Sailor Gutzler walked three-quarters of a mile through the woods and a creek before she knocked on a homeowner's door for help.

Her father, Marty Gutzler, 48, was flying the aircraft in "inclement weather" when he made a distress call at about 5:55 p.m. CT Friday, Kentucky State Police said during a briefing Saturday. The four members of the Gutzler family and a 14-year-old cousin were returning from a Christmas vacation in Key West, Florida, to their home near Mount Vernon in southern Illinois.

"She indicated to us that she believed her family was deceased but that she hoped they were just sleeping," Kentucky State Police Lt. Brent White said. " I was literally just struck by how calm she was."

Sailor Gutzler suffered a broken bone in her wrist in the crash, Kentucky State Police Lt. Brent White said. 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, briars, and bushes to get to the home," said White.

"She didn't have very much clothing on at all," White said.

"She was bleeding pretty bad, her legs were bleeding, her face had a bloody nose. She was barefoot, she only had one sock on," he told US TV news network NBC.

"She's a terribly brave little girl, I'll tell you that. I can't imagine a seven-year-old doing that.

"She told me that her mom and her dad were dead, and she was in a plane crash, and the plane was upside down.

"She asked if she could stay here. I got a wash cloth and cleaned her up. And of course called 911."

He added: "I felt so sorry for her, tears came to my eyes. Brave little girl."

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