A plane that crashed in Kentucky Friday night, killing four people aboard, had taken off from Key West. The only survivor was a 7-year-old girl.
The dead are the girl’s parents, a sister and a cousin. The girl, Sailor Gutzler, was released from the hospital Saturday, The Associated Press reported.
A relative of the family, Nicholas Brink, has been in the U.S. Navy for eight years. Petty Officer 2nd Class Brink has been stationed at Naval Air Station Key West for three years and is an electronics technician.
“When it’s one of our own, it hits especially hard,” said base spokeswoman Trice Denny.
The Piper aircraft crashed in “rough territory,” and the girl had made her way out and rang the doorbell at a house she came upon. The resident called police to report the girl’s tale of the crash.
“I come to the door and there’s a little girl, 7 years old, bloody nose, bloody arms, bloody legs, one sock, no shoes, crying,” Larry Wilkins, 71, told The Associated Press on Saturday. “She told me that her mom and dad were dead, and she had been in a plane crash, and the plane was upside down.”
The plane, heading for Mount Vernon, Illinois, went down about 30 miles east of Paducah, Kentucky. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.
Officials identified the dead as Marty Gutzler, 49; Kimberly Gutzler, 45; Piper Gutzler, 9; and Sierra Wilder, 14. All were from Nashville, Illinois.
They were traveling in a plane registered to Fro-Gutz Air in Mount Vernon, Illinois, according to the FlightAware website. The tracking information indicated that the plane stopped in Tallahassee Friday afternoon before continuing on toward Illinois.
On Dec. 27, a man named Gerald Martin Gutzler from Nashville filed a report with Key West police saying he had been ripped off in an online rental scam. When he got to Key West, he discovered someone living at the house he’d rented and was told it was not for rent. Officer Todd Stevens wrote that “this has happened numerous times” at the Packer Street address.
It appears that Gutzler, who the report said was 48, may be the same man who died in the plane.