MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – A seven year old girl who was the only survivor of a small plane crash which killed her family may be the key to figuring out what happened.
National Transportation Safety Board investigator Heidi Moats said that Sailor Gutzler was “one remarkable young lady,” and might be able to assist them in determining what brought the plane down. It is rare for someone to survive a small plane crash and Moats said they want to talk to Sailor about it.
“Having someone that is a witness (is) always helpful in the investigation, it gives us kind of a story line,” Moats said.
It’s not clear when investigators might talk to Sailor, who despite being bloodied and suffering a broken wrist, pulled herself from the wreckage and walked to the nearest home.
Sailor and her family had been visiting family in Key West. They stopped in Tallahassee and were on the way back to Mount Vernon, Illinois when the plane went down in Kentucky.
Dressed for Florida in shorts and a short sleeved shirt, Gutzler, found a home about a mile from the crash site. Authorities said she walked through thick woods and briar patches in near-freezing temperatures.
Sailor trekked to the home of 71-year-old Larry Wilkins, who answered her knock at the door and called police. Wilkins said the girl was crying and covered in blood.
“She told me that her mom and dad were dead, and she had been in a plane crash, and the plane was upside down,” Wilkins said.
The remains of the Piper PA-34 plane were moved Sunday so officials with the NTSB can inspect it. They haven’t discussed any possibilities of what brought the plane down or how Sailor survived the crash.
The crash killed Sailor’s parents, Marty Gutzler, 48; and his wife, Kimberly Gutzler, 46; Sailor’s sister, Piper Gutzler, 9; and a cousin, Sierra Wilder, 14. All were from Nashville, Illinois.
White said the father’s body was “the last one they pulled out because of how deep he was buried.”
Marty Gutzler was flying the plane, which reported engine trouble and lost contact with air traffic controllers. Controllers tried to direct the pilot to an airport 5 to 7 miles from the crash scene.
Gutzler was a licensed commercial pilot and flight instructor, according to the FAA website.
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