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

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

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.

Police identified the pilot is 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 thousands of homes and businesses in the area. 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 with the registration number N201RF, according to the FAA. The plane had departed from Westchester County Airport in White Plains, N.Y.

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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.

Pepco reported that about 85,000 customers throughout the northern parts of Montgomery County were without power at the height of the outages.

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.

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.