RHODES POINT, Md. (October 4, 2011)—US Coast Guard, Maryland Natural Resources Police, and Virginia Marine Police have located and recovered the body of a female believed to be the victim of the small plane crash yesterday in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay off Smith Island.
The recovered body has not been positively identified, but is tentatively believed to be Mary L. Lagerquist, 78, of Sequim, Washington. She was deceased when her body was located at about 9:00 a.m. Monday in the water off the southern point of Smith Island.
The male victim is identified as Lanson, C. Ross, III, 48, of the 400-block of Broad Creek Drive, Ft. Washington, Md. Ross, the pilot of the plane and son of the female victim, was treated and released overnight at Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury.
Ross told State Police investigators overnight that he was piloting his single-engine aircraft when it lost power and he crashed into the waters of the Chesapeake Bay while attempting to reach Smith Island. He said both he and his mother were able to exit the plane after it crashed and before it sank. He was attempting to swim to Smith Island with his mother when he said she passed away. Ross said he continued swimming and was able to reach Smith Island about 8:00 p.m. Sunday.
At about 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Maryland State Police helicopter Trooper 4, from Salisbury, was dispatched for an aerial search of the Chesapeake Bay off Somerset County. Officials at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station called the State Police Aviation Command dispatch center and said they had been talking with a pilot who reported trouble with his aircraft and said he was trying to make it to Smith Island. His small plane had disappeared from radar about three miles off the southwest side of Smith Island, according to Pax River officials.
The US Coast Guard joined the State Police search by dispatching an aircraft and vessel into the area. Officers from the Maryland Natural Resources Police responded to assist in the search with two of their boats. A second Maryland State Police helicopter, Trooper 7 from St. Marys County, also joined in the search.
The preliminary State Police investigation indicates Ross flew his mother in his two-seater plane from Hyde Field in Clinton, Md., yesterday to Tangier Island. After visiting the island, they were beginning their trip back to Hyde Field when the pilot began experiencing problems with the plane. He radioed the Patuxent River Naval Air Station and informed them he would try to reach Smith Island. He told State Police he was forced to land the plane in the water and that it sank rapidly.
Ross said his mother was injured in the crash, but after exiting the aircraft she was swimming with him as he attempted to help her swim in the direction of Smith Island. Ross said after about a mile of swimming in rough water with waves three to five feet high, his mother passed away. Ross continued on and was able to reach the island.
State Police have notified officials with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration. Those agencies will be responsible for investigating the cause of the crash. The plane has not been located or recovered at this time.
Source: MSP HQ