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Marrero woman and pilot survive harrowing plane crash into power lines in Maryland

Their small single-engine plane crashed into high-tension wires about a mile from a Maryland airport Sunday evening.

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — Can you imagine dangling from powerlines, high above the ground in a small plane as first responders work through the night to free you? 

Authorities say that’s exactly what happened to a Marrero woman and her pilot when they crashed in suburban Washington, DC over the weekend. 

Their small single-engine plane crashed into high-tension wires about a mile from a Maryland airport Sunday evening. 

The aircraft got tangled up in the powerlines and a support tower. 

The two people on board were suspended 100 feet above the ground while they waited to be pulled from the plane. 

A spokesman for the local fire and rescue service admits the aircraft could have fallen at any point until they were able to secure it. 

“Throughout the whole incident, we were concerned that the plane would shift,” Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Pete Piringer said. “It did shift according to the occupants for a little bit at one point.” 

The plane was en route from White Plains, New York to Gaithersburg, Maryland about 45 miles north of Washington. 

Authorities identified the pilot as 65-year-old Patrick Merkle of Washington and his 66-year-old passenger Jan Williams from Marrero, Louisiana. 

The video shows the pilot waving his arm to responders as they worked on the ground to rescue them. 

“They were anxious,” Chief Scott Goldstein from Montgomery County Fire and Rescue said. “They were concerned about the stability of the aircraft, the stability of the aircraft remaining in the tower structure.” 

Rescuers worked in tall bucket trucks in foggy conditions to secure the plane after crews de-energized the powerlines. 

They were finally able to free Williams and the pilot after midnight, about 8 hours after the crash. 

“They had orthopedic injuries, traumatic injuries and then the environmental concerns from the event,” Chief Goldstein said. 

The occupants were taken to a trauma center for treatment. 

According to fire officials, their medical conditions are improving. 

The NTSB and FAA are now investigating how and why the small plane crashed.

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