Small Plane Crashes Into Power Lines in Gaithersburg


Sky News

A small plane slammed into a power tower in Gaithersburg, causing power outages in the area.

Sophia Cooper, Associate Editor-in-Chief/ News Editor

   Many Montgomery County residents were shocked on Nov. 27 to find themselves without power only to find out the cause was the entanglement of a small plane in local power lines. Emergency services were dispatched and rescued both passengers of the aircraft. 

   The rescue was a bit complicated and involved different steps. First, the rescue team ensured that there was no electricity left in the wires connected to the plane to be sure there was no risk of electrocution. Once that was done, the aircraft was secured to the nearest tower and a plan was put into place to extricate the passengers. The pilot was identified as Patrick Merckle, originally from the D.C. area. The passenger, Janet Williams, is from Louisiana. The rescue operation took seven hours to complete although the plane was not removed for three additional hours. 

   As of Monday, authorities reported that one of the victims was released from the hospital although they didn’t specify whether it was the pilot or the passenger. The other victim remained in the hospital in stable condition and was expected to continue to improve. They were both transported to the hospital with orthopedic and trauma injuries as well as hypothermia because of the low temperatures they endured while trapped in the plane. 

   The cause of the crash is still unknown although there are many factors that could have been involved including the plane altitude, the less-than-pleasant weather conditions, the area and other factors.

   The crash cut power to approximately 120,000 households, shut down roads, caused Metro delays and an overload of 911 calls. Both Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) and Montgomery College (MC) canceled classes for Nov. 28 due to unsafe conditions caused by both the crash and power outages.

This was not the first crash to occur in the Gaithersburg area. According to The Washington Post, there have been at least 30 crashes at or near Montgomery Airpark. In 2014 there was a crash that killed six people and prompted a response from residents demanding safety changes.