Community Pledges Support for Girl Who Survived Piper Seneca Crash

Local residents come to seven-year-old's aid.

Piper Crash

Piper Crash

A seven-year-old girl who survived the crash of a Piper Seneca that killed four of her family members on Friday is recovering from her injuries as her local community rallies to support her both financially and emotionally.

Sailor Gutzler was flying with her family back home to Illinois from a Christmas holiday in Key West, Florida, when their twin-engine Seneca II encountered engine problems and crashed in a wooded area in southwestern Kentucky.

According to crash investigators, the PA-34-200T, N81291, departed Key West on Friday at about 1 p.m. with five on board bound for Mount Vernon Airport in Illinois. The airplane landed at Tallahassee Regional Airport at about 3:30 p.m. for fuel and then departed at about 4 p.m.

The pilot, Sailor's father Marty Gutzler, notified ATC that he was having engine problems and that he was going to divert to Kentucky Dam State Airport. ATC lost contact with the airplane not long after. The Seneca crashed in a heavily wooded area about 10 miles from Dam State Airport.

According to news accounts, Larry Wilkins, a resident in the area of the crash, reported that he was watching TV on Friday when he heard a knock at the door. It was Sailor, dressed in summer clothes, wearing no shoes and only one sock and bleeding from her legs and face. She told Wilkins she had been in a plane crash and that her parents, sister and cousin were all dead.

Gutzler was taken to a local hospital, where she was treated and has been released. Members of her local community of Nashville, Illinois, have pledged to provide financial and psychiatric support for the girl.

"Anything she needs," said one resident, "we'll give it to her."

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