Officer: 'Divine Intervention' in Case of Crash Survivor

Teen's mom mourns 'best friend' killed in plane crash
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2015 2:46 AM CST
Updated Jan 5, 2015 7:03 AM CST
Girl Survivor to Aid Kentucky Plane Crash Probe
Larry Wilkins looks out in the direction of the plane crash. Sailor Gutzler, the lone survivor of the crash, walked approximately three-quarters of a mile through the woods to Wilkins' home.   (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

The 7-year-old sole survivor of a Kentucky plane crash is a "remarkable young lady" who could provide vital clues to what brought down the small aircraft, National Transportation Safety Board investigators say. Sailor Gutzler, who trekked three-quarters of a mile for help after the crash that killed her parents and 9-year-old sister, helped direct investigators to the remains of the Piper PA-34 plane, which was removed yesterday, the AP reports. An NTSB spokeswoman says it's rare for someone to survive a small-plane crash and that it will be very helpful to have a witness. A fund has been set up to help the girl, who is now being cared for by family members in her Illinois hometown after being released from the hospital.

Relatives say that after the crash, Sailor used survival skills her father taught her to seek help, although the second police officer to arrive at the home she walked to tells the Los Angeles Times he suspects there was "divine intervention there, because she absolutely went to probably the nearest house that she could have," despite darkness and rough terrain. The crash also killed the girl's cousin, 14-year-old Sierra Wilder, whose mother tells NBC that "she was my best friend." Sierra, she says, was "very kind to everybody and anybody, even if she didn't know them" and loved going on trips with the family to help the Gutzlers look after their two young girls. (More Kentucky stories.)

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