First responders were able to rescue a pilot and a passenger in Montgomery County, Maryland early Monday morning after their plane crashed into live power lines. While the plane’s occupants sustained serious injuries, they were deemed non-life-threatening.
According to the AP, the rescue was extremely involved. Both the passenger and pilot were removed from the plane more than six hours after initially crashing into power lines. The county’s fire chief, Scott Goldstein, said the initial crash occurred at 5:40 p.m. on Sunday. He also reported that it caused widespread power outages. The plane’s occupants remained stranded 100 feet above the ground until rescuers pulled one victim out at 12:16 a.m. The second victim was removed from the craft approximately 10 minutes later.
The news outlet reports that Maryland State Police identified both occupants. The pilot involved in the Maryland plane crash was identified as 65-year-old Patrick Merkle of Washington, D.C. The passenger was identified as 66-year-old Janet Williams of Marrero, Louisiana. Police reports state both victims suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries. They also endured hypothermia which set in as they awaited rescue.
The Federal Aviation Administration states the plane departed from White Plains, New York before crashing into the Maryland tower. The FAA and MD State Police are currently working on a joint investigation.
Maryland Utility Company Speaks Out About Sunday Plane Crash
As rescuers worked to pull both the pilot and passenger from the crashed plane on Monday morning, Montgomery County’s utility company, Pepco, reported approximately 120,000 customers were without power. Montgomery County is the most densely populated across Maryland, making the plane crash and the following outage even more significant, especially as temperatures begin to drop. Altogether, a 2020 census reports Montgomery County is home to 1,062,061 residents.
In their own statement, Pepco said immediately following the crash, “We have confirmed that a private plane came into contact with Pepco’s transmission lines in Montgomery County, resulting in an outage to around 85,000 customers. We are assessing the damage and working closely with Montgomery Fire and Emergency Services.”
The company made its initial statement around 6:30 p.m. Outages from the plane crash affected Maryland towns and communities including Wheaton, Olney, Gaithersburg, and Silver Spring. As rescue crews worked to free the victims from the crash site, multiple roads became closed off.
The utility company’s statement concluded, “We are awaiting clearance to the scene before crews can begin work to stabilize the electric infrastructure and begin restoring service.”
While power had been restored to many residents early Monday morning, Montgomery County’s public school system made the decision to close schools and offices. The decision came as the system declared the outage from Sunday night had a severe impact on safety and school operations. The closures also included child care centers.