A small, private jet has slammed into a house, killing a woman and her two young sons inside the home and three people on the aircraft, authorities said.
The jet crashed yesterday around 10:45 am in Gaithersburg, a Washington DC suburb, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Chief Steve Lohr told a news conference.
Authorities quickly said all three people in the plane had been killed, but it took hours for fire crews to sweep the home and confirm that three people were inside. They were identified as 36-year-old Marie Gemmell and her two sons, 3-year-old Cole and 1-month-old Devon, police said.
They were found in a second-floor bathroom. Gemmell was lying on top of her young sons in an apparent effort to shield them from the smoke and fire, said police Capt Paul Starks.
Her husband and a school-age daughter were not home and were accounted for, police said.
The fuselage of the jet crashed into the front lawn of an adjacent home, which was heavily damaged by fire, and investigators believe one of its wings, which had fuel inside, was sheared off and tore through the front of the Gemmell home, said Robert Sumwalt, a National Transportation Safety Board member. Witnesses reported seeing and hearing a secondary explosion after the plane hit the ground.
The two-story, wood-frame home was gutted. The first floor was nearly completely blown out and smoke drifted from a gaping hole in what was left of the collapsing roof. No one was injured in the adjacent homes that also had major damage.
The founder and CEO of a North Carolina clinical research organisation was among those on the plane. Health Decisions of Durham, North Carolina, said in a news release that Dr Michael Rosenberg was among those killed.
Rosenberg was a pilot who crashed a different plane in Gaithersburg on March 1, 2010, according to a government official who wasn’t authorised to speak publicly and asked not to be named. Investigators are still trying to determine if Rosenberg was at the controls at the time of the crash.
Fred Pedreira, 67, who lives near the crash site, said he had just returned home from the grocery store and was parking his car when he saw the jet and immediately knew something was wrong.