After she survived a fatal plane crash, a seven-year-old girl successfully walked almost a mile through the woods in the dark to find help.
Sailor Gutzler’s mom, dad, nine-year-old sister and 14-year-old cousin died when the small plane went down in Kentucky Friday night, but she made it to 71-year-old Larry Wilkin’s home, CNN reports. Gutzler checked to see whether anyone else had survived, then walked barefoot through pitch-black woods until she found Wilkins.
“I seen a bloody little girl with tears in her eyes, her lips trembling,” Wilkins told CBS. He sat her down on his couch and then called 911. “The bravest kid I ever seen in my life,” he added.
The ground Gutzler covered was “very, very rough territory,” with creeks, briars and ditches, Wilkins told CNN. She was wearing a t-shirt and shorts, and was barefoot except for one sock, despite near-freezing temperatures.
A local county official told CNN the direction Gutzler walked after the crash “saved her life.”
She was treated for a broken wrist in the hospital and released Saturday into the care of relatives.
The plane, a Piper PA-34 piloted by Gutzler’s father, was headed to Illinois from Key West, Florida. Air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane after the pilot reported engine problems and attempted an emergency landing. It crashed less than 10 miles from a Kentucky airport.
The bodies of Marty Gutzler, 48, his wife Kimberly, 46, their nine-year-old daughter Piper, and Sierra Wilder, 14, were recovered from the upside down plane by rescue workers Saturday.
“My baby girl was the sweetest, kindest person you will ever come across,” Wilder’s mother said in a statement to CBS. “Words cannot express how much she’s missed now and forever.”
Wilkin’s called Sailor’s survival a miracle. “I just feel so sorry for that little girl, I can’t understand it,” he told CBS. “I just can’t imagine that, for someone that young.”
A fund sanctioned by the family has been set up for Sailor at www.sailorgutzlerfund.com/.
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