As rescuers scrambled to free the two occupants of the small plane who were trapped about 100 feet above the earth, a small plane crashed into a transmission tower in Maryland on Sunday, shutting out electricity to around 117,000 consumers, according to the authorities.
According to Pete Piringer, a spokesman for the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, the pilot, Patrick Merkle, 65, of Washington, and the passenger, Jan Williams, 66, of Louisiana, did not appear to have suffered any major injuries.
As the airplane dangled in the power lines and tower, he said that the authorities had been in touch with the two people. In order to communicate with rescuers, officials had instructed the pilot and the passenger to save battery life on their phones, County Fire and Rescue Service Chief Scott Goldstein stated in a news conference on Sunday night.
According to Mr. Piringer, the pilot and passenger were headed for Montgomery County Airpark, a small airport about 40 miles west of Baltimore, near Gaithersburg, Maryland. The single-engine Mooney M20J aircraft, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, took off from Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York, on Sunday.
A small plane has crashed into power lines in the area of Rothbury Dr & Goshen Rd, taking out power to parts of the county.@mcfrs is on scene. PLEASE AVOID THE AREA, as there are still live wires. #MCPD #MCPNews
— Montgomery County Department of Police (@mcpnews) November 27, 2022
The cause of the accident, which occurred in Montgomery Village, Maryland, at about 5:40 p.m., is still unknown, but it resulted in some interesting images posted on social media by locals and authorities. Images and videos depicted the jet as being hooked into power lines and hanging in midair in a tangled pile of metal.
By 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, authorities had come up with a rescue strategy, according to Chief Goldstein: First, personnel will climb the tower to make sure the lines are free of power. According to him, the personnel will attach cables to the line and discharge any static energy to a ground source.
The aircraft will then be secured to the tower and the pilot and passenger will be extricated by a different crew using bucket trucks or an “extraordinarily massive crane,” according to Chief Goldstein.
Chief Goldstein stated that unless it is chained and secured in place, it won’t be stable. “Any movement, even an unintentional one, could worsen the situation.”
Chief Goldstein explained that the area’s heavy fog was making visibility worse and would “make things more wet and slippery,” adding to the difficulty of the situation.
By 10 p.m., bucket trucks had reached the scene, and employees were getting ready to start what authorities anticipated would be a dangerous operation that would take several hours. More than 100 firefighters and rescue personnel were on the scene at one point.
We are approaching this in a measured and risk-adjusted manner, according to Chief Goldstein.
The crash-affected Maryland electricity provider Pepco tweeted that it was “awaiting clearance to the scene before crews can start working to stabilize the electric infrastructure and begin restoring power.”
UPDATE – FAA confirms single-engine Mooney M20J crashed into wires near Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg, Md., around 5:40 p.m. Two people were on board. The aircraft departed from Westchester County Airport in White Plains, N.Y. https://t.co/bhEmt7NTiR
— Drew Wilder (@DrewWilderTV) November 28, 2022
In addition to the risky rescue effort, authorities and locals had to deal with a related issue: Given the massive damage to the tower, officials were unsure of how long electricity would be out across large portions of the county’s approximately one million residents on Sunday night.
The Montgomery County Public School System announced that it will think about calling off Monday’s classes since more than 40 of its campuses and six administration buildings lost power on Sunday night. Due to the outages on Sunday, only a small portion of two local hospitals, Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring and MedStar Montgomery Medical Center, were able to operate.
On Sunday night, Mr. Piringer claimed that there had already been reports of stopped elevators and broken traffic signals.