GAITHERSBURG, Md. (AP) — Two men were rescued from a small plane early Monday in Maryland, several hours after it crashed into power lines, causing widespread outages in the surrounding county.
Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said the plane was secured to the tower at 12:16 a.m. and the first man was removed from the plane at 12:25 a.m.; the second man was taken out at 12:36 a.m.
Goldstein did not say which of the men, identified by Maryland State Police as pilot Patrick Merkle, 65, of Washington, D.C., and passenger Jan Williams, 66, of Louisiana, were rescued first from the plane that was stuck about 100 feet above the ground.
He said both men suffered “serious injuries” from the crash and that hypothermia was also an issue. They were taken to local trauma centers with injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening injuries, Goldstein said.
The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that the single-engine plane, which had departed White Plains, New York, crashed at about 5:40 p.m. Sunday. It hit a power-line tower near Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg.
Pete Piringer, chief spokesperson for the Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service, had said on Twitter that the people on board were uninjured and that rescuers had been in contact with them. He had at one point said in a video message that three people were on the plane but later clarified that it was two.
The FAA identified the plane as a Mooney M20J.
The video showed a small white plane positioned nose up near a power tower. A local television station’s live video showed the plane remained stuck in the transmission tower after 8 p.m.
The utility Pepco had reported that about 120,000 customers were without power in Montgomery County. At the time of the rescue, most of the power had been restored to the county, outside of the crash site. Goldstein said the next steps were to secure the plane, remove it. Then, the powerlines can be restrung and reconnected.
The crash took place in Gaithersburg, a city of 69,000 people about 24 miles northwest of Washington, D.C.
The cause of the crash wasn’t immediately clear. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate what happened.