Young Girl Who Survived Family Plane Crash Was Taught Survival Skills


(PCM) Additional details have emerged about the incredibly tragic plane crash that occurred in Kentucky in which 7-year old Sailor Gutzler was the only survivor.

Sailor was able to climb out of the upside down wreckage of her family’s Piper twin-engine plane and trek nearly three-quarters of a mile through the Kentucky woodlands battling freezing cold temperatures with broken bones and being clothed for warmer weather.

Sailor is said to have been taught survival skills from her father and was able to light a stick from the burning plane before starting her trek into the woods. She also attempted to “wake-up” her family members who tragically passed away in the crash.

The four Gutzler family members and a 14-year old cousin were traveling back to their home in Mt. Vernon, Illinois after a Christmas vacation trip to Key West, Florida.  Sailor’s father Marty was flying the plane during inclement weather and made a distress call at around 5:55pm CT.

After leaving the scene of the crash, Sailor ended up on the doorstep of 71-year old Larry Wilkins about 40 minutes after air traffic control lost contact with Marty’s plane.  Wilkins says that Sailor was dressed in summer attire and only wearing one sock. When she arrived he asked what he could do for her and she asked if she could stay there. Wilkins grabbed a wash cloth and cleaned the girl up and of course immediately contacted the local authorities.

Sailor remained fairly calm throughout the entire ordeal and was able to direct authorities to the crash site when they arrived at Wilkin’s home. She told authorities that she believed her mother, father and the rest of her family were dead, but she had hoped that they were just sleeping.

Marty, Sailor’s mother Kimberly, 46, her sister Piper, 9 and cousin Sierra Wilder, 14 all perished in the crash. Sailor is a true survivor and gave her very best efforts to get help for her family. She was treated for her injuries at a Kentucky hospital and released the next day.

A donation page has been set up online to “help Sailor obtain the emotional, physical and educational support she will need in the years to come,” and can be found at

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