At seven years of age, Sailor Gutzler was the lone survivor of a plane crash that killed his parents and older sister on Friday night. As such she joins a select club of people from around the world, who have been spared in catastrophic accidents.
Miraculously, the brave girl was able to walk away from the deadly crash site to find help for her family, whom she hoped were “just sleeping.” The father had sent a distress call moments before the twin engine plane came crashing upside down.
Wearing summer clothes, as she was returning from a Florida vacation with her family and a cousin, Sailor reportedly walked about a mile, through the woods in an unknown place in Kentucky, to reach a home and ask for help. Authorities call her a “remarkable young lady” for having the presence of mind to save herself after the traumatizing plane crash.
There are not many people who walk away from a small — or large for that matter — plane crash that kills all other passengers, but Sailor Gutzler is now part of a select club that members would prefer not to belong to. According to data available, there are less than 100 lone plane crash survivors out there, with about one-third being children or crew members.
Since the 1930s there have been a few plane crashes with lone survivors, which is a completely unexplained experience as the following cases show.
Jim Polehinke was the co-pilot and lone survivor of Comair Flight 5191, traveling from Lexington, Kentucky to Atlanta Georgia, and was at the controls when the plane crashed in 2006, killing all 49 people on board, except Polehinke. As in the case of little Sailor Gutzler, the fact that he survived inside the mangled wreckage was a miracle.
“It was as if an angel had wrapped his arms around him and held him,” his wife said at the time. Investigators determined that the pilots failed “to cross-check and verify that the airplane was on the correct runway before takeoff.” Jim Polehinke lost a leg as a result of the crash.
In 1985, George Lamson Jr. and his father switched seats on board Galaxy Airlines Flight 203 and this decision proved to be prophetic. Moments later the plane crashed, killing 69 others in Reno, Nevada. NTSB investigators determined that ground crew at the airport “failed to properly close an air start access door, which led to an unexpected vibration shortly after take off.”
Lamson has tried to find answers as to why he was spared and has reached out to other lone plane crash survivors to help them deal with their unique situation.
Ruben van Assouw, 9, was the lone survivor of the Afriqiyah Airways Airbus crash in May of 2010. The accident killed the boy’s entire family when they were returning home to the Netherlands from an African safari. Incredibly, the young boy had non-life threatening injuries, according to the Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesperson.
There is no question that lone crash survivors are an anomaly and investigators simply have no explanation as to why these individuals did not perish like the rest of their fellow passengers. Some call it an act of God, a miracle. For little Sailor Gutzler the road to recovery will be a long and painful one, however, she is now in the care of extended family members, according to MSNBC and appears to have a strong network of family friends.
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