Girl, 7, survives US plane crash that kills 4 in her family

Kuttawa (US), Jan 4: A 7-year-old girl who survived a plane crash in rural Kentucky had trekked about a mile without shoes in near-freezing temperatures in order to find help, a witness has said.

Bloodied but free of major injuries, the girl knocked on the door of the first home she found that of Larry Wilkins of Kuttawa, Kentucky.


He was stunned when he opened the door Friday evening, only to see a young girl bleeding from various injuries and sobbing.

"I come to the door and there's a little girl, 7 years old, bloody nose, bloody arms, bloody legs, one sock, no shoes, crying," Wilkins, 71, told The Associated Press in an interview Saturday.

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

Kentucky State Police Sgt. Dean Patterson said Federal Aviation Administration officials have arrived at the scene to try to determine why the small Piper PA-34 crashed as it flew over rural southwestern Kentucky early Friday evening.

The plane had reported engine trouble and lost contact with air traffic controllers shortly before the 5:55 p.m. CST crash, authorities said.

About a half hour later, emergency dispatchers received a call from Wilkins, who reported that a girl who had been involved in a plane crash had walked to his home.

The girl was treated at Lourdes Hospital in Paducah, Kentucky and released early Saturday, Patterson said.

"This girl came out of the wreckage herself and found the closest residence and reported the plane crash," Patterson said.

"It's a miracle in a sense that she survived it, but it's tragic that four others didn't."

Patterson said the girl was the daughter of the two adults who died in the crash, Marty Gutzler, 48; and his wife, Kimberly Gutzler, 46.

Also killed in the crash were the girl's sister, Piper Gutzler, 9; and a cousin, Sierra Wilder, 14. All were from Nashville, Illinois.

The bodies have been recovered and sent to Louisville for autopsies.

In Nashville, a man stepped outside the family's white, split-level home on Saturday and politely waved off a reporter.

"Not now," he said, his head lowered, before he stepped back inside. Neighbors said Marty and Kim Gutzler had lifelong roots in the largely rural southern Illinois town about 80 km east of St. Louis. Marty Gutzler ran the furniture store that his father started, and the couple was well-known and well-liked, said neighbor Carla Povolish. 


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