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2 trapped in plane dangling from live power lines 100 feet in air after Maryland crash; rescued

( NYPost )

Two people were trapped for seven hours inside a small plane entangled in live wires about 100 feet from the ground after it crashed into power lines in Maryland on Sunday evening.

The single-engine aircraft crashed into the high-tension wires near Goshen Road and Rothbury Drive as it prepared its descent toward Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg around 5:30 p.m., authorities said.

The pilot and passenger were rescued around 12:30 a.m. in what emergency personnel called a “Herculean effort” and rushed to local trauma centers for serious injuries. Officials said they suffered trauma-related injuries as well as hypothermia, but are expected to survive.

“[The two people aboard the plane] seem to be okay at this time, however, they’re in a very precarious situation due to the fact that they are dangling about 100 feet up and everything’s still energized,” Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Services chief spokesperson Pete Piringer said from the scene before the rescue.

The collision left tens of thousands of people in the area without power Sunday night.

According to the local energy supplier, Pepco, 85,000 to 90,000 homes and businesses were affected by the “widespread” outages in Montgomery County. More than 125 traffic lights were out, two hospitals were functioning at limited capacity and several elevators were also affected, Piringer said.

Emergency responders focused on rescuing the two people suspended in the plane before the restoration efforts could begin, officials said.

Montgomery Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said emergency personnel were in communication with the two people on the plane, but could not reach them until they were able to ensure the power lines were de-energized.

“While there is a large area of power outage in Montgomery County, … there is no other way to determine if it’s safe to access the tower until it is grounded or bonded,” Goldstein said at a 9 p.m. press conference.

Crews had to first secure the wires with clamps and cables to ensure there was no static electricity or residual power that could electrocute rescue teams or the plane’s passengers. Workers were able to ground the power lines by about 11:30 p.m., the chief said. 

They then secured the plane to the tower structure to prevent movement and vibrations at around 12:15 a.m.

Once safe, teams began removing the people from the plane. The first person was brought down at 12:25 a.m. and the second at 12:36 a.m., Goldstein said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane, a single-engine Mooney M20J, was coming from the Westchester County Airport in White Plains, NY, when it collided into the wires.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.

All customers who had lost power had service restored, Pepco said in a statement around 1:30 a.m. 

The aircraft, however, remained suspended in the power lines early Monday. Crews were working to remove it — after which the lines would be restrung and repaired. 

Officials planned to close public schools in the county on Monday as a result of the outages. 

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