On Sunday, a small plane crashed into a transmission tower in Maryland, cutting power to about 117,000 people while rescuers rushed to free the two people who were stuck about 100 feet above the ground.
The pilot, Patrick Merkle, 65, of Washington, and the passenger, Jan Williams, 66, of Louisiana, were rescued after midnight with “serious injuries,” Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service Chief Scott Goldstein said at a news conference. He also said that they were taken to a local trauma center and that firefighters would work to get the plane out of the way and reconnect the power lines.
As the plane hung from the power lines and tower, the authorities talked to the two people inside. Chief Goldstein did not say how badly the two people were hurt, but he did say that the crash had caused “hypothermia” and that there were also orthopedic and trauma injuries.
Pete Piringer, a spokesman for the fire and rescue service, said that the pilot and passenger were flying to Montgomery County Airpark, an airport near Gaithersburg, Md., about 40 miles west of Baltimore. The plane, a single-engine Mooney M20J, took off from Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York, on Sunday, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
It was still not clear what caused the crash, which happened around 5:40 p.m. in Montgomery Village, Md., and made for some strange photos posted by locals and officials on social media. Images and videos showed that the plane was tangled in power lines and looked like a tangled mess of metal hanging in the air.
Chief Goldstein said that by 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, officials had come up with a rescue plan. First, crews would go up the tower and make sure the wires had no power left. He said that the crews would put cables on the wire to move any static electricity to the ground.
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Chief Goldstein said that after that, another crew would use vehicles called “bucket trucks” to get to the plane, tie it to the tower, and get the pilot and passenger out.
Chief Goldstein said, “It won’t be stable until it’s chained and strapped down.” “Any movement, even one that wasn’t planned, could make the situation worse.”
It was still not clear what caused the crash in Montgomery Village, Maryland.
During the seven-hour rescue operation, the dense fog in the area made it harder to see, which made things more slippery and dangerous, said, Chief Goldstein.
At 10 p.m., bucket trucks had arrived at the scene, and crews were getting ready to start what officials thought would be a dangerous and long-lasting operation. At one point, more than 100 people were working in fire and rescue at the scene. Chief Goldstein said, “We are taking steps that are measured and take into account the risks.”
Pepco, the energy company in Maryland that was affected by the crash, said on Twitter that it was “waiting for clearance to the scene” before crews could start working to stabilize the electric infrastructure and start restoring service.
Pepco said, “Once the people have been saved, we can put all of our attention on getting power back on for our customers.” “We know it’s hard to be without power on a cold night like tonight.”
In addition to the dangerous rescue operation, officials and residents had to deal with another issue: power was out in large parts of the county, which is home to about a million people, for part of Sunday night, and officials didn’t know how long it would take to fix because the tower was so badly damaged. Chief Goldstein said that by 1 a.m., power had been turned back on in most of the county outside of the crash area.
Because more than 40 of its schools and six of its office buildings lost power on Sunday night, the Montgomery County Public School System said it would cancel classes and close its offices on Monday. The county said that all of the campuses of Montgomery College would also close on Monday.
We have confirmed that a private plane came into contact with Pepco’s transmission lines in Montgomery County, resulting in an outage to approximately 85,000 customers. We are assessing damage and working closely with Montgomery County fire and emergency services.
— Pepco (@PepcoConnect) November 27, 2022
Because of the outages, two hospitals in the area, the MedStar Montgomery Medical Center and the Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring were only able to work at a limited level for a short time on Sunday.
The pilot and the passenger didn’t look like they were hurt very badly. Mr. Piringer said that there had been reports of elevators that wouldn’t move and traffic lights that didn’t work on Sunday night. He said that just before midnight, there were about 100 intersections without working traffic lights, which he thought was a dangerous number because of the thick fog.
Stay tuned to our website NogMagazine.com for more updates.
Jessa Martin is the author of Nogmagazine, A professional in writing by day, and novelist by night, she received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University and her master of arts in media studies from the New School. A Brooklyn native, she is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves, most likely multitasking.