Two People Left Dangling From Plane Over Live Power Lines After Crash in Montgomery County, Maryland

Two people were trapped and “dangled” from their small plane on live power lines Sunday night in Maryland after the plane crashed and became entangled in power lines.

Maryland State Police confirmed the plane involved was a Mooney Mike 20P single-engine aircraft. It’s not clear how the crash happened, but Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service Chief Spokesman Pete Piringer (MD) Pete Piringer, who was at the scene, said the crash involved a passenger. and a pilot occurred around 5:30 p.m., with units arriving on the scene to find the plane hovering about 100 feet in the air.

The crash was located about four miles northwest of Montgomery County Airport.

Those on board appeared to be fine, with no injuries reported at the time of the crash. Authorities said they were in contact with the pilot and passengers. The pilot has been identified as Patrick Merkle, 65, of Washington, DC. The passenger was Jan Williams, 66, of Louisiana.

Piringer warned in its initial update shortly after the crash that the occupants of the vehicle were “floating about 100 feet in the air and everything is still full of energy at this point.”

“They’re in a very precarious situation because of the fact that they’re dangling at about 100 feet.”

As rescue efforts continued after midnight, Piringer said of the couple: “We thought they were fine but this has been going on for a few hours. This will take some time.

Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said in an update Sunday night that authorities were in contact with the pair by phone, censoring regular check-in intervals to save the device’s battery. .

Roads in the area were closed as authorities tried to come up with a plan to rescue trapped occupants. Special engineering teams were on the scene, as well as a team of hazmats and emergency medical services personnel, assisting fire and police officials. Employees of the Potomac Power Company were also present at the scene.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department urged residents of Montgomery Village to avoid the area due to “lived wires” at the scene—although the Pepco area electric company later said it had “disconnected” the pulse lines. around.

Tens of thousands of people lost power in the area, which power companies confirmed was the result of the crash. Pepco said in a statement that up to 120,000 customers were affected.

“Our teams continue to work closely with Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services in their efforts to assist emergency responders on the scene. Transmission lines are currently experiencing power outages,” the company said.

The estimated recovery time is still unknown.

Just before midnight, Pepco said it was still on the scene and that “once the individuals were rescued, we were able to focus all our efforts on restoring power to our customers. We know how hard it is to be without power on this cold evening. We appreciate your support and patience.”

Along with homes, schools, hospitals and shopping malls, power outages also affect traffic lightssignal, elevator and Metro.

The Federal Aviation Administration has an order to restrict aircraft while rescue efforts are underway.

Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said in an update Sunday night that while authorities continued to communicate with those on the plane, safety concerns prevented the crew from rescuing them. .

One of the main problems, he said, is that there’s no other way to determine if access to the tower is safe until it’s grounded or “bonded” – meaning teams have to go on their own. wire and place clamps or cables on the power cord, to make sure there is no static or residual electricity.

“We are taking measured and risk-balanced steps to approach this activity and will do this in the way that we aim to get these people off the plane,” Goldstein said.

Witnesses described a terrifying scene on Sunday as the plane plunged to earth.

“I heard a crash and there was a flash and the power went out,” a witness, a county employee, posted on Twitter.

“I didn’t think about it until I saw a lot of priority patrol cars followed by lots of fire trucks. So, you know, I did what any off-duty 911 person does and texted a friend who was working.”

Police said investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration will conduct an investigation into the cause and manner of the crash.

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