A seven-year-old girl has survived a plane crash that killed her mother, father, nine-year-old sister and 14-year-old cousin, in the US state of Kentucky, police have said.
The crash survivor, whose identity has not been released, trekked about a mile without shoes through rough terrain in near-freezing temperatures to reach the first home she found in the rural county of Kuttawa on Friday evening.
“I come to the door and there is a little girl, 7-years-old, bloody nose, bloody arms, bloody legs, one sock, no shoes, crying,” Larry Wilkins told The Associated Press news agency in an interview 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.”
Dean Patterson, a local police officer, said that federal aviation administration officials arrived at the scene to try to determine why the small Piper PA-34, which took off from Florida and was bound for Illinois, crashed as it flew over rural southwestern Kentucky.
The plane had reported engine trouble and lost contact with air traffic controllers shortly before the accident, authorities said.
About a half-hour later, emergency dispatchers received a call from Wilkins, who reported that a girl who had been involved in a plane crash had walked to his home.
The girl was treated at Lourdes Hospital in Paducah, Kentucky and released to a relative early on Saturday, Patterson said.
“This girl came out of the wreckage herself and found the closest residence and reported the plane crash,” Patterson said.
“It’s a miracle in a sense that she survived it, but it’s tragic that four others didn’t.”
Patterson added that the girl was the daughter of the two adults who died in the crash, Marty Gutzler, 48; and his wife, Kimberly Gutzler, 46. Also killed in the crash were the girl’s sister, Piper Gutzler, 9; and a cousin, Sierra Wilder, 14. All were from Nashville, Illinois.
The bodies have been recovered and sent to Louisville for autopsies.
The pastor of a church near the crash site said the area was known for rough terrain and that the conditions on Friday were wet due to persistent rain.
“That area is very rough and hilly, very heavily forested with mature trees,” said the Rev. Dean Weber of the Chestnut Oak United Methodist Church in Kuttawa. “Any plane crash in that area is going to be a severe ordeal.”