The last thing Larry Wilkins expected when he opened his front door was to find a plane crash survivor, nose bloodied and arms and legs scratched, at his front door.
Her name was Sailor Gutzler,7-years-old, and somehow, she was still alive after surviving a plane crash and trekking three-quarters of a mile through grisly woods to his house.
“She told me that her mom and dad were dead,” Wilkins said. “And that she had been in a plane crash.”
The girl’s sister and cousin also died when their Piper PA-34 aircraft crashed Friday evening in western Kentucky, CNN reported. Even with the plane upside down, the young girl made it out and walked through what Wilkins described as “very, very rough territory,” filled with fallen trees, creeks, and ditches.
Sailor made the journey barefoot except for one sock and was dressed for Florida weather – shorts, no jacket – not for journeying through the January cold of Kentucky. Wilkins got her on his couch and called 911 – alerting authorities that a plane had crashed and there was at least one survivor.
“She’s a terribly brave little girl, I’ll tell you that,” Wilkins said. “I can’t imagine a 7-year-old doing that.”
Kentucky State Police troopers arrived in about ten minutes. Sgt. Dean Patterson said the girl was taken to a local hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.
The plane Sailor was on had departed for Key West, Florida early Friday, heading for Mount Vernon, Illinois, a city roughly 80 miles east of St. Louis.
Then something went wrong. Air Traffic Aviation spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen explained that air traffic controllers “lost contact with a Piper PA-34 aircraft… shortly after the pilot reported engine problems and (said) that he was diverting to the Kentucky Dam State (Park) Airport.”
The twin-engine aircraft ended up crashing in Lyon County, about 30 miles east of Paducah and less than 10 miles from the airport.
Kentucky State Police identified the plane crash victims early Saturday as Marty Gutzler, 48; Kimberly Gutzler, 46; and 9-year-old Piper Gutlzer – a husband, wife and their daughter. 14-year-old Sierra Wilder, the survivor’s cousin, was also killed. All were from Nashville, Illinois.