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2 rescued after plane crashes into power lines in Maryland

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(NewsNation) — A pilot and a passenger who were stuck in a small plane for nearly seven hours after it crashed Sunday into power lines in Maryland have been rescued, officials said Monday morning. The crash caused widespread outages in the surrounding county.

Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said the plane was secured to the tower at 12:16 a.m. and the first occupant was removed from the plane at 12:25 a.m. The second occupant was out at 12:36 a.m.

Goldstein did not say which of the men, identified by Maryland State Police as pilot Patrick Merkle, 65, of Washington, D.C., and passenger Jan Williams, 66, of Louisiana, were rescued first from the plane that was stuck about 100 feet above the ground.

He said both men suffered “serious injuries” from the crash and that hypothermia was also an issue. Both men were transported to local trauma centers with non-life-threatening injuries, Goldstein said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that the single-engine plane, which had departed White Plains, New York, crashed into a power line tower near Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg around 5:40 p.m. Sunday.

The FAA identified the plane as a Mooney M20J.

The utility Pepco had reported that about 120,000 customers were without power in Montgomery County. At the time of the rescue, most of the power had been restored to the county, outside the crash site. Goldstein said the next steps were to secure the plane, remove it and then the powerlines will be restrung and reconnected.

Montgomery County Public Schools announced that schools will be closed on Monday.

The crash took place in Gaithersburg, a city of 69,000 people about 24 miles northwest of Washington, D.C.

The cause of the crash wasn’t immediately clear. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate what happened.

NewsNation affiliate WDVM and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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