EDDYVILLE, Ky. - A 7-year-old girl who survived a plane crash in Kentucky that killed her parents and two other family members has been released from the hospital, an official said Saturday.
Kentucky State Police Sgt. Dean Patterson also said Federal Aviation Administration officials have arrived at the scene to try to determine why the small Piper PA-34 crashed as it was flying over a rural part of southwestern Kentucky early Friday evening.
The plane had reported engine trouble and lost contact with air traffic controllers shortly before the 5:55 p.m. CST crash, authorities said. About a half hour later, a resident called 911 and told dispatchers that a 7-year-old girl had walked to his home and said she had been involved in a plane crash.
The girl was treated at Lourdes Hospital in Paducah, Kentucky and released early 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 said 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 daughter 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.
Investigators with the National Transportation Safety board also were expected to get to the scene later Saturday, Patterson said.
The FAA said late Friday that the plane had taken off from Tallahassee Regional Airport, Florida, and was bound for Mount Vernon, Illinois. Patterson said the girl who survived indicted the plane had left from Key West, Florida. He said she was in emotional distress when taken to the hospital for treatment of injuries that were not life-threatening.
The pastor of a church near the crash site said the area was known for rough terrain and that the conditions 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, Kentucky. "Any plane crash in that area is going to be a severe ordeal."