A small plane crashed intoin Maryland, leaving two people dangling about 100 feet in the air, officials said. The crash knocked out power to thousands of people in the area.
A single-engine Mooney M20J crashed into wires near Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg, Maryland, around 5:40 p.m. local time Sunday, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The plane appeared to be intact as it was caught in a web of power lines about 100 feet in the air.
Maryland State Police identified the occupants of the plane as pilot Patrick Merkle, 65, of Washington, D.C., and passenger Jan Williams, 66, of Louisiana.
As of roughly 7:50 p.m., Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson Pete Piringer said the people aboard the plane were uninured. Earlier he said that they remained in a “very precarious situation,” as the wires were still energized. Utility company Pepco said that as of around 8:30 p.m. the lines had been deenergized.
Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein told reporters shortly after 9 p.m. that crews were still working to make the situation safe to carry out a rescue operation.
“While there is a large area of power outage in Montgomery County, there is no other way to determine if it is safe to access the tower until it is grounded or bonded which means crews have to go up to the wires to put clamps or cables onto the wires to ensure there is no static electricity, no residual power,” Goldstein said.
Goldstein said the plane would then need to be stabilized by securing it to the power line tower before the two occupants can be brought down. He said officials are able to contact the occupants by cellphone, and have been checking in on them.
The crash led to “widespread power outages” and road closures nearby, officials said.
Pepco confirmed that the crash affected approximately 85,000 customers and said they are working with authorities to assess the damage.
“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,” the utility company tweeted. “We are assessing damage and working closely with Montgomery County fire and emergency services.”
The crash will be investigated by the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board, with the NTSB leading the investigation and providing additional updates, the FAA said in a statement.