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

By Carey Gillam

By Carey Gillam

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

The crash Friday night killed 48-year-old Marty Gutzler, his 46-year-old wife, Kimberly Gutzler, their nine-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 surviving daughter was able to walk to a nearby home to seek help, police said. She was then taken to an area hospital and treated for minor injuries, before being released to a family member early this morning, said Kentucky State Police spokesman Dean Patterson.

The girl's name was withheld at the request of family members, he said.

"When you have a small plane crash in a wooded area it is going to cause significant damage," said Patterson. "It is amazing to me that the smallest person in that aircraft was the one that survived."

An area 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 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 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.

(This story adds dropped word 'a' in fifth paragraph)

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