- Associated Press - Thursday, January 8, 2015

NASHVILLE, Ill. (AP) - Hundreds of mourners gathered in a southern Illinois middle-school gymnasium Thursday to remember three members of a family killed last week in a Kentucky plane crash.

A line stretched through the halls of the school in Nashville, Illinois, and then zigzagged through the cafeteria as mourners arrived for the visitation of 9-year-old Piper Gutzler and her parents, Marty Gutzler, 48, and Kim Gutzler, 49. The three caskets were lined end-to-end along one wall. Flower arrangements and teddy bears sat atop and between the caskets. Easels held portraits and snapshots of the family.

The Gutzlers were killed along with 14-year-old relative Sierra Wilder when the small plane piloted by Marty Gutzler crashed on Jan. 2. The family was returning from a Florida vacation.

The Gutzlers’ other daughter, Sailor, survived and managed to trek a mile for help. She came to the home of 71-year-old Larry Wilkins, who said she was crying and covered in blood when she told him her mother and father were dead.

Services for Sierra Wilder were held Tuesday in Nashville.

The Rev. Danny Donato eulogized the teenager as an initially “quite shy” child who blossomed into an extrovert with an eclectic mix of friends, an infectious smile and a passion for selfies.

“Rarely did you not see her smiling, or not giggling with her friends,” Donato said as he stood near Wilder’s closed casket and collages of photos of her.

A private funeral for the Gutzlers will be held Friday.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.


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