Lights went dark in Montgomery County, affecting hundreds of traffic signals, and about 120-thousand PEPCO customers.
A single prop plane crashed into high power lines and the tower that supports them while trying to get to The Montgomery Air Park from Westchester County, NY. at about 5:40 pm. And then the waiting began. First responders stayed in contact with the pilot, 65-year-old Patrick Merkle of Washington DC, and his 66-year-old passenger Jan Williams of Louisiana via radio transmission, and later, once every 30 minutes via cell phone. Then at about 12:30 am, after the wires were grounded, and the threat of static electricity was tamped down, plus the arrival of cranes that rescuers could use to reach the two, who were trapped 100 feet up for hours, firefighters carefully extracted them. They were transported to local hospitals with serious injuries, that reportedly could be related to back and neck problems from the collision with the tower, and lying almost upside down for 7 hours.
Once the fog that engulfed the area at about 10 last night lifted, at about 3:30 this morning, the wreckage of the plane, and then its engine was removed from the tower. Pepco says that power was restored to all those affected by the crash shortly afterward.
Why the plane crashed into the high power lines is under investigation.
Montgomery County Schools are not in session today so power, heat, and Internet connectivity issues, disrupted by the power outage could be addressed.
Photo courtesy of Montgomery County Fire and Rescue