Marrero woman survives freak small plane crash in Maryland; hear pilot’s harrowing 911 call

Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 7:15 PM CST
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MARRERO, La. (WVUE) - The tense moments following a small plane crash in Maryland that left a Marrero woman hanging for hours in a utility tower were heard in newly released audio of the pilot’s call to 911 for help.

Pilot Patrick Merkle, 65, calmly described the life-threatening situation he and 66-year-old Janet Williams were in. Their plane had crashed Sunday into the tower in such a way that it was wedged into the metal structure and tangled power lines, leaving them dangling about 100 feet off the ground for more than six hours.

“Just keep as still as you can,” a 911 operator tells the pilot. “They’re working on getting up to you guys.”

“Fortunately, we don’t have a lot of wind. But we get some wind going, we’re done,” Merkle tells the dispatcher.

2 rescued after plane hits transmission tower in Maryland

Merkle told the operator both he and Williams sustained head injuries when bounced inside the cockpit in the crash.

“I’m just concerned about the possibility that we could slip out of this tower and go tail-first into the ground, and that would not be a survivable distance,” Merkle tells the operator.

The incident knocked out power to more than 120,000 customers, but it was restored before Williams and Merkle were even rescued from the plane.

“He nailed that tower. It’s a miracle he didn’t fall straight down,” said local pilot Randy Noel. “The fact that that engine locked up inside of that tower and it didn’t fall ... He must have really had God on his side, cause they both lived. Not many people walk away from that.”

Merkle and Williams sustained serious, but not life-threatening injuries. Williams could not be reached for comment.

The single-engine plane had departed from White Plains, NY.

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