Pilot, passenger rescued after small plane crashes into power lines in Maryland

Fog was reported around the time of the plane crash on Sunday night in Montgomery County, Maryland, but officials will continue to investigate the cause.

GAITHERSBURG, Md. – Two people were rescued early Monday morning hours after a plane crashed and was suspended in the air from power lines in Montgomery County, Maryland, Sunday night.

According to a report from FOX 5 DC, rescue crews were able to pull the pilot and passenger of the small plane out of the wreckage around 1 a.m. Officials said both were taken to Suburban Hospital with serious injuries.


The incident happened around 5:30 p.m. in the area of Rothbury Drive and Goshen Road in the Montgomery Village area of Gaithersburg. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesperson Pete Piringer said the small plane had become entangled in a power line tower and was suspended about 100 feet in the air.

Police identified the pilot as Patrick Merkle, 65, of Washington, D.C. and the passenger as Jan Williams, 66, of Louisiana. Officials say they were in contact with them via cell phone while they were trapped.

The crash caused power outages to about 85,000 homes and businesses in the northern parts of Montgomery County, according to Pepco. Most power has since been restored Monday morning, but Montgomery County Public Schools will remain closed Monday.

The plane that crashed was a single-engine Mooney M20J, according to the FAA. The plane had departed from Westchester County Airport in White Plains, N.Y.

Montgomery County Police closed roads in the area while rescue operations were in place and utility crews shut off power to the power line tower. Officials said the plane had been secured to the tower, so it wouldn't fall prior to the rescue.

Visibility at the time of the crash was low, and fog had been reported in the area, but the cause of the crash has not yet been determined.

Piringer said investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are conducting the investigation and that members of the Maryland State Police Criminal Enforcement Division are assisting with the investigation.  There are no signs of criminal activity or foul play at this time, he said.

The investigation continues at this time.