Maryland plane crash: First responders share details about rescue operation

FOX 5 spoke with first responders who helped rescue two people from a small plane that crashed and was suspended in the air from power lines in Montgomery County Sunday night.

Even the first responders couldn’t necessarily believe it.

But they were prepared for it.

"I can’t [explain it] so it was a miracle, but you know, that’s all I can say about that," said Luke Marlowe with Montgomery County Fire and EMS and a member of the tactical team working about 100 feet above in the air trying to free two people from a plane wedged into an electrical transmission tower.

READ MORE: Maryland Plane Crash: New details on rescue operation, investigation

First responders spoke with media three days after the crash that, at one point, knocked out power to over 100,000 Pepco customers.

Lt. Logan McGrane tells Fox 5 the team trains at least once a month on various parts of so-called "high-angle" tactical rescues like the one done in Gaithersburg late Sunday night into early Monday morning. 

In the original 911 call, Pilot Patrick Merkle indicated neither he nor passenger Janet Williams were seriously injured after the plane went into the tower.

"Whether they were injured minor or injured major, right? It didn’t change the speed at which we did things. Unfortunately, with the energy potential in that tower, and with it being off, we were at the mercy of waiting for them to ground that thing before it was safe enough for my people," McGrane said.

There were backup plans in place. But while the process seemed simple on paper, grounding an electrical line, tethering an airplane to the tower, and extracting two people was complicated, especially high up in the air.

READ MORE: Pilot, passenger rescued after small plane crashes into power lines in Montgomery County

Luke Marlowe said Merkle and Williams were calm, and they wanted to be delicate in extracting them from the plane.

"We were extra careful with that. We don’t want to cause more injuries than while we were getting them out. We talked before I moved them; make sure no other injuries were going on. We knew where those injuries were, and we were able to work around that and get them out safely," Marlowe said.