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Piper Seneca Crashes Killing All Onboard Except 7 Year Old Daughter

January 4, 2015 - A family heading back home to Illinois from a Christmas holiday in Key West encountered engine problems in their Piper Seneca II aircraft that resulted in the crash and death of all onboard except their 7 year old daughter, Sailor Gutzler.

The Piper PA-34-200T Seneca II, N81291, had departed Key West on Friday at about 1 PM with five onboard for Mount Vernon Airport, Illinois. The aircraft landed at Tallahassee Regional Airport at about 3:30 PM where the aircraft was refueled and then departed about 4 PM.

Enroute the pilot notified air traffic control that he was having engine problems and that he was going to divert his route and land at Kentucky Dam State Airport. Not long after reporting engine problems ATC lost contact with the aircraft.


The Piper Seneca crashed near Buckberry Trail in Lyon County, Kentucky which is a heavily wooded area, about 10 miles short of Kentucky Dam State Airport. The only survivor was the 7 year old daughter. The Kentucky State Police have reported that all of the victims were from Nashville, Illinois. The pilot has been identified as Marty Gutzler, 49, his wife Kimberly, 45, and 9 year old Piper Gutzler. Also killed in the crash was 14 year old Sierra Wilder, a cousin.

Larry Wilkins, a resident in the area of the crash reported he was watching TV when he got a knock at the door. It was 7 year old Sailor Gutzler, dressed in summer clothes, no shoes on and only dressed in one sock. Bleeding and shaken up, the 7 year old told Wilkins that she was in a plane crash about 3/4 mile away and that her family members had died in the crash. Sailor Gutzler was taken to a local hospital for minor injuries and released.


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