2 People Rescued After Small Plane Crashes into Maryland Transmission Tower

Two people were rescued early Monday morning after a small plane crashed into a transmission tower in Maryland the previous day.

The Mooney Mike 20P single-engine plane crashed into the power lines at approximately 5:30 p.m. Sunday in the area of Rothbury Drive and Goshen Road in the Montgomery Village area of Gaithersburg, according to Fox 5 DC.

The plane was suspended approximately 100 feet in the air and it took around seven hours before the two individuals in the plane could be rescued at around 4:00 a.m., according to Pete Piringer of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service. It took until Monday afternoon for the plane to be removed from the power lines and back on the ground.

The pilot was identified as Patrick Merkle, 65, of Washington, DC, and the passenger was identified as Jan Williams, 66, of Louisiana, according to the Maryland State Police. Merkle and Williams called 911 and the operators stayed on the phone with them for hours.

“They were disoriented to the complexity of the circumstances, so as all of our call takers do, you work on reassuring them, providing them frequent updates, establishing a dialogue with them so you’re exchanging information,” Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Chief Scott Goldstein told reporters.

We started asking questions about their medical conditions, doing everything we would do face-to-face with a patient but by the telephone,” Goldstein added, while also noting that first responders were worried about the pilot and passenger getting hypothermia.

The plane departed Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York, and was scheduled to land at around 5:40 p.m. at the Montgomery County Airpark.

However, according to archived recordings, air traffic controllers tried to warn the plane that it was flying at a low altitude before the crash occurred, CNN reported.

Earlier in the flight, air traffic controllers were also worried that the pilot would get in the way of flight paths of commercial flights from Washington Dulles Airport.

Those who were nearby the crash were in disbelief at what they saw. Some recalled it was too dark to see clearly but it appeared as if the plane was suspended in mid-air

“We were just all in suspense,” Kevin Kitonga told CBS Baltimore, who works at a nearby CVS Store. “We were honestly just watching because we didn’t know if the plane was going to abruptly fall on the ground. The way it was stuck in there did not look safe. It was like dang near dangling.”

Fox 5 reported that 120,000 homes lost power, causing some local schools to close for the day.

The outlet also noted that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the pilot, the plane, and the environment, and expects to have a preliminary report within two to three weeks and a final report within 12 to 24 months.

You can follow Ethan Letkeman on Twitter at @EthanLetkeman.


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