GAITHERSBURG, Md. — Six people were killed when a private jet crashed into a Maryland home, killing a mother and her two children inside the house as she apparently tried to shield them from harm, authorities said.
The bodies of Marie Gemmell and her two sons, 3-year-old Cole and a 1-month-old Devon, were recovered inside a second-floor bathroom several hours after the plane carrying three people gutted the Gaithersburg residence around 10:45 a.m. Monday, said Montgomery County police Capt. Paul Starks.
Gemmell and her boys appear to have survived the initial impact with the mother’s body found atop those of her children, suggesting she was attempting to shield them from the flames in their final moments, authorities said.
Gemmell’s husband arrived at the scene later and appeared to be in shock, reported WUSA9, which also reported the mother was home on maternity leave at the time.
The couple’s oldest, school-age daughter was not home and has been accounted for, police said.
A neighbor of the couple, who didn’t want to be identified, described Gemmell to the Daily News as a “very nice lady. She was very sweet.”
“Whenever she sees us doing something in the garden, she always stops by to talk,” the woman said. “I can’t believe that she’s gone. It’s very sad.”
Among those killed onboard the plane heading to a nearby air field in Maryland from Chapel Hill, N.C., was Dr. Michael Rosenberg, who had survived another plane crash in Gaithersburg on March 1, 2010, according to a government official and local report.
It wasn’t immediately known if Rosenberg, who was a pilot and the founder and CEO of North Carolina clinical research organization, Health Decisions, was piloting the jet when it crashed.
In the previous crash, Rosenberg crash landed into trees at the nearby Montgomery County Airpark but escaped with non-life-threatening injuries, the Gazette reported at the time.
Like that 2010 crash, the six-passenger jet in Monday’s crash, identified as an Embraer EMB-500/Phenom 100 twin-engine, was attempting to land at that same airpark.
Gemmell’s neighbor, who lives about a block away, said that planes flying overhead have long been a concern of theirs.
“We always have that fear. We’re still worried about that,” she told The News. “Recently they started flying really low. I don’t know why.”
The plane’s black box, containing the flight’s data, has since been recovered in “good physical condition,” said National Transportation Safety Board investigator Robert Sumwalk at an evening press conference.
The cause of the crash remained unknown as of Monday night with NTSB investigators expected to remain at the scene for several days, said Sumwalk.
“I heard like a loud crash, and the whole house just shook,” neighbor Emily Gradwohl said. “We got jackets on, ran outside and saw one of the houses completely set on fire.”
“When I opened my window, I could see smoke over the trees and I heard a small explosion, like a pop,” said Byron Valencia, who lives nearby. “I could see the smoke rising … It’s scary.”
Gaithersburg resident Fred Pedreira was parking his car after going grocery shopping when he saw the plane go down.
“This guy, when I saw him, for a fast jet with the wheels down, I said, ‘I think he’s coming in too low,'” Pedreira said. “Then he was 90 degrees — sideways — and then he went belly-up into the house and it was a ball of fire. It was terrible.
“I tell you, I got goosebumps when I saw it. I said, ‘My God, those are people in that plane,'” he continued before adding his hopes that nobody was inside the home.
With News Wire Services