Girl, 7, walks away from fatal plane crash

Marty Gutzler and his daughter Piper, left, who died in the crash
Marty Gutzler and his daughter Piper, left, who died in the crash
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A SEVEN-year-old girl has walked away from a plane crash that killed her parents and everyone else on board in the United States.

The child, who has not been named, managed to climb out the wreckage of the light aircraft and knock on a stranger’s door in Kentucky to raise the alarm.

She was disorientated and crying, police said, but did not have serious injuries.

The Piper PA-34 had gone down near Kentucky Lake, a popular tourist attraction, after reporting engine trouble and losing contact with air traffic controllers at about 5:55pm local time on Friday (11:55pm GMT), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said.

About half-an-hour later, a man in Lyon County called police and told them that a girl had walked to his home and said she had been involved in a plane crash.

Larry Wilkins, 71, told NBC News that when he answered his door there was a “little girl” standing there barefooted.

“The little girl come to my door. She was bleeding pretty bad, her legs were bleeding, her face had a bloody nose. She was barefoot, only had one sock on,” he said.

“She told me that her mum and her dad were dead, and she was in a plane crash, and the plane was upside down.

“She asked if she could stay here. I said ‘Honey, what can I do for you?’ I got a wash cloth and cleaned her up and, of course, called 911.

“I felt so sorry for her, tears come to my eyes. Brave little girl.”

Kentucky State Police named those killed in the crash as Marty Gutzler, 49, Kimberly Gutzler, 45, their daughter, Piper, nine, and Piper’s cousin, Sierra Walder, 14, who all were from Nashville, Illinois.

The family is believed to have been returning home after celebrating New Year in Key West, Florida.

Marty Gutzler had posted pictures of the celebrations on Facebook along with photos from the flight there, showing the children in the plane’s rear seats.

“This girl came out of the wreckage herself and found the closest residence and reported the plane crash,” said Sergeant Dean Patterson of Kentucky State Police. “It’s a miracle in a sense that she survived it, but it’s tragic that four others didn’t,” he added.

The girl was in emotional distress and taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Sgt Patterson said.

At that point, the authorities launched a search for the crash site and also confirmed with the FAA that it had received a distress call.

Police have not confirmed the girl’s relationship to the crash victims and her name has been withheld at the request of the family.

“FAA air traffic controllers lost contact with a Piper PA-34 aircraft … shortly after the pilot reported engine problems, and told air traffic controllers that he was diverting to the Kentucky Dam State Airport,” said FAA communications manager Kathleen Bergen.

The twin-engine aircraft, which can seat up to six people, was found in Lyon County, about 30 miles east of Paducah, and less than 10 miles from the airport two hours after the crash.

It was in a heavily wooded area near Kentucky Lake, with four bodies – of the pilot and three passengers – inside.

The FAA said the aircraft had taken off from Tallahassee Regional Airport, Florida, and was bound for Mount Vernon, Illinois.

Sgt Patterson said it had been raining in the area for most of Friday and confirmed the cause of the crash was under investigation.