A small aircraft and a helicopter collided Thursday afternoon at a municipal airport in Frederick, Maryland, incident that caused 3 people to die and other 2 to be injured, according to Frederick County Fire Chief Denise Pouget.
The three victims killed were onboard the helicopter. They have been identified as Christopher D. Parsons, 29, of Westminster, Md., William Jenkins, 47, of Morrison, Colo., and Breandan J. MacFawn, 35, of Cumberland, Md.
Maryland State Police say the two survivors, the pilot of the plane and his passenger, were taken by ambulance to Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown, Md.
The pilot has been identified as 55-year-old Scott Graeves, of Brookeville, Md., and the passenger as 75-year-old Gilbert Porter of Sandy Spring, Md. They were both released from the hospital Thursday evening.
According to the FAA, a Cirrus SR22 aircraft and an R44 helicopter collided in mid-air near the southwest corner of the airport at about 3:40 p.m. ET.
“The SR22 was inbound to the airport and the helicopter was involved in a training exercise when the accident occurred,” the FAA said in a statement.
A parachute deployed from the plane following the collision and was still attached to the aircraft when emergency responders arrived on the scene, said Capt. Kevin Fox of Frederick County Fire and Rescue. The large, red-and-white striped parachute could initially be seen still inflated and in the air, and then on the ground.
I was in my shop working and just heard a loud boom,” Tim Flannery who pulled Graeves and Porter from the plane after the crash said. “We ran out and went looking around and we [saw] a parachute sticking over the tree line over there across the field.”
Flannery says the two men seemed to be okay when he got to the plane. He quickly took the men away from the aircraft because it was leaking fuel.
“Things were so fast. We were just trying to get them out of there,” Flannery said. “The parachute was still hooked to the plane so it was like swaying an pulling the trees. They were cracking and everything. I was afraid the plane was going to fall out of the trees.”
Officials are also investigating why a parachute ejected from the airplane, but say it was likely deployed to help the plane land safely.