Seven-year-old girl survives Kentucky plane crash: police

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 03, 2015 10:54 AM

By Carey Gillam

(Reuters) - A 7-year-old girl survived when a small plane in which she was flying with her family crashed in the Kentucky woods, taking the lives of her mother and father, an older sister and a teenage cousin, police said on Saturday.

The crash Friday night killed 49-year-old Marty Gutzler, his 45-year-old wife, Kimberly Gutzler, their 9-year-old daughter Piper Gutzler and 14-year-old Sierra Wilder, a cousin, according to Kentucky State Police. The family was from Nashville, Illinois, police said.

The only survivor was the Gutzlers' 7-year-old daughter, who was able to walk to a nearby home to seek help. Except for her age, police would not release details about the girl, including her name.

A local homeowner, Larry Wilkins, told CNN that the girl was crying and bloodied when she showed up at his door, nearly a mile from the crash site, and told him her parents were dead. "She's a terribly brave little girl," Wilkins said.

The girl was taken to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries, police said.

The family had spent the New Year's holiday in Florida, visiting a son who lives there, and was returning home when the plane went down.

The Gutzlers were part-owners of a family-owned furniture store that has served the southern Illinois community of Nashville for five decades. Employees and customers alike were in mourning, said family friend and store employee Troy Dunbar.

"This whole community is heartbroken," he said.

Marty and Kim Gutzler's Facebook pages feature pictures of the couple celebrating New Year's Eve with a lobster dinner, as well as photos of the couple and the children packed into their airplane.

Dunbar said he had been told the 7-year-old girl had suffered a broken arm in the crash.

"She was so attached to her dad," he said. "He would bring her into the store a lot and she was never out of his sight."The plane, a Piper PA-34-200T, described by police as a fixed-wing multiple-engine aircraft, went down in a heavily wooded area of Lyon County after 6:00 p.m. (midnight GMT) on Friday. The plane had departed Key West Florida on Friday and was headed to Mt. Vernon, Illinois, police said.

The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration were sending investigators to the crash site on Saturday.

(Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City, Mo.; Editing by Frank McGurty and Kevin Liffey)