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‘She’s up and about’: Plane crash survivor is with relatives

Sailor Gutzler, the 7-year-old Washington County girl who survived a plane crash, is staying with relatives, according to a family spokesman.

But as of Tuesday there had not yet been any court action taken to establish legal guardianship of the girl.

“She is with family members,” said Kent Plotner, an attorney who is serving as a spokesman for the Gutzler family.

A relative, 69-year-old Larry Haake, who resides in a retirement community in Florida, told the Orlando Sentinel that Sailor is doing well.

“She has ... a lot of lacerations,” Haake said. “But little Sailor is doing well ... she’s up and about.”

Haake, who is an uncle of Sailor’s father, Marty Gutzler, returned to his hometown of Nashville after the plane crash. Haake said Sailor is “from a very tight family and is being well cared for. We take comfort in that.”

As of Tuesday, no guardianship petition had been filed regarding Sailor, according to Washington County court records.

Plotner said, “I don’t know what the status of that is. I know that she’s under the care of family members, and I think a determination is yet to be made on who that is going to be.”

Sailor’s parents, Marty and Kim Gutzler of Nashville, died Friday evening when their small plane crashed in Kentucky. Sailor’s 9-year-old sister, Piper Gutzler, and her cousin, 14-year-old Sierra Wilder of Nashville, also died in the crash.

Plotner declined to discuss specifics about Sailor’s care or her condition. He said the family is seeking privacy.

The remarkable story of how Sailor, with a broken wrist, navigated through cold, dark woods and stickers to find help at the home of a Kentucky resident has been a rallying point amid the grief.

“A loss like this doesn’t just affect one family or one group of people, it affects the whole community,” the Rev. Matthew Wietfeldt of Trinity Lutheran Church in Nashville told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s very hard to go through this, but the comfort we have is we can go through this together, and we’re all rallying around Sailor.”

The Gutzlers were returning from Key West, Fla., to the regional airport in Mount Vernon. Chris Collins, the manager at Mount Vernon Outland Airport, said the Gutzlers had made the trip to Key West numerous times in their six-seater Piper PA-34 Seneca, apparently to visit family members.

Collins said Marty Gutzler has been flying since he was 16.

“I’d guess he probably flew twice a month, but a lot of times I didn’t see him. Airports are big places. There are a lot of time that I wouldn’t see him, but I would hear him on the radio,” Collins said.

Collins said he’s not aware of the Gutzler plane ever having any mechanical trouble.

Funeral arrangements

Visitation for the Gutzlers, open to the public, is scheduled for 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Nashville Middle School gymnasium. Family members said the school gym was chosen as the site because of the large crowd that is expected.

A funeral service for the Gutzlers, which is private and only for family members and close friends, is 11 a.m. Friday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Nashville, with the Rev. Matthew Wietfeldt officiating.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the Sailor Gutzler fund at www.sailorgutzlerfund.com, or will be accepted at the Campagna Funeral Home in Nashville.

The funeral for Sierra will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Campagna Funeral Home. Visitation will be held 4-8 p.m. Tuesday and at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday at the funeral home.

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