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RECAP: People rescued, power restored after plane crashes into Montgomery Co. power lines

A small plane crash left thousands of Montgomery County residents in the dark Sunday night.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — A small plane crashed into power lines in Montgomery County, leaving a pilot and passenger trapped and thousands without power Sunday evening, according to officials. Rescue crews and Pepco workers worked through the night and into Monday morning to rescue the people inside the plane, safely remove it from the power lines, and restore power to thousands of customers who were left in the dark because of the crash. 

As of Monday at 3:30 a.m., the plane has been removed from the power lines, the pilot and passenger inside the plane have been rescued and a Pepco spokesperson said power had been restored for all customers impacted by the incident. 

Chief Spokesperson for Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service Pete Piringer said that officials responded to Rothbury Drive and Goshen Road around 5:40 p.m. after a report of the crash. At the scene, the small plane was seen dangling 100 feet in the air in a Pepco tower.

After seven hours, emergency crews rescued the pilot and passenger who were trapped in the plane and used a bucket truck to get them safely back on the ground.

Maryland State Police said the pilot has been identified as 65-year-old Patrick Merkle of Washington, D.C. and the passenger is a 66-year-old woman from Louisiana. Both were seen being placed in ambulances, although early on officials said the two were not injured.

Here's a full recap of how it all developed Sunday night:

Officials say the plane, a Mooney Mike 20P single engine plane, was headed towards Montgomery Airpark to land. The airpark is now closed to air traffic.

The incident has left a big portion of the area experiencing a black out, with around 85,000 Pepco customers without power, according to the company. Pepco said the private plane came into contact with the company’s aerial transmission lines. 

"The company is assessing damage and contingency opportunities to restore service to impacted customers," a Pepco spokesperson said. "Pepco is working closely with Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services and is awaiting clearance to the scene before crews can begin work to stabilize the electric infrastructure and begin restoring service."

The power outage has affected approximately 125 traffic signal lights, according to Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT). The power outage also affected Metro's Red Line and even phone service in the area.

Around 10:40 p.m., basket trucks could be seen through the fog of the night going up to rescue the two people stuck in the plane.

Montgomery County Department of Police is asking people to avoid the area of the crash as there are still live wires. Rothbury Drive and Goshen Road remain closed as officials investigate.

Many people have gathered at Goshen Plaza to catch a glimpse at the plane that is dangling in the air.

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) and offices will be closed Monday, Nov. 28, due to a widespread power outage and its impact on safety and school operations. "Currently, more than 40 schools and 6 central office facilities are without power, affecting a number of key services such as maintenance, buses and food services," a spokesperson for the MCPS said.

Credit: Tim Pruss, MyDrone.Pro
Credit: Tim Pruss, MyDrone.Pro

Maryland State Police, emergency medical service personnel from Montgomery County, and officials from the Potomac Electric Power Company are at the scene.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration also responded. They will conduct investigations into how and why the crash happened. 

This is a developing story. WUSA9 is working to confirm additional details. Stay with WUSA9 for the latest updates as they come in to our newsroom.

Watch Next: Pilot rescued from plane that crashed into power line tower in Maryland

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