- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A small plane crashed yesterday while attempting to land at a Bowie airport during a brief snowstorm, killing two persons and seriously injuring one.

The single-engine Cessna 172S was making a second landing attempt when it crashed just before 10 a.m. at Freeway Airport, off eastbound Route U.S. 50, authorities said.

“The plane nose-dived in a soft field about a quarter-mile south of the runway,” said Mark Brady, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County Fire Department.

One of the pilots, Edward Julian Seuter, 40, of Marshall, Va., was killed. A passenger in the back, Laura Kelly, of Woodbridge, Va., was found by airport workers who raced to the scene. She was hospitalized with serious upper-body injuries. The identity of the second man killed was withheld last night because his relatives had not been contacted, police said.

It was not clear what caused the crash, though authorities said weather may have been a factor.

The crew was advised not to attempt to land at the airport, said Brian Rayner of the National Transportation Safety Board, which is leading the investigation.

Marcel Bernard, the chief flight instructor at the airport, said it was snowing heavily and clouds were low when the plane crashed. Visibility in the area was poor — between zero and 500 feet.

People inside the airport’s office heard the plane fly over but did not see the crash.

The airport does not have a tower, but people in the airport communicated with the plane after it made its first approach.

Mr. Bernard said that people inside the plane asked whether the runway lights were activated and were advised to consider landing at a bigger airport.

The four-seater plane had taken off from Warrenton Fauquier Airport in Midland, Va., and was headed to Freeway to pick up a fourth person before continuing to New Jersey.

The Potomac Tracon facility, which handles the takeoffs and landings in the area, cleared the Cessna for a landing at the airport, which has one runway.

“I would have gone to another airport,” Mr. Bernard said. “The pilot in command has to make the decision on whether to continue. That’s what they’re trained to do. If the weather’s not cooperating, consider an alternate airport.”

Mr. Seuter and the other man were pilots, and each had controls before them.

The safety board will take the wreckage today to its Delaware facility for further examination.

Lauren Peduzzi, an agency spokeswoman, said investigators also will examine the pilots’ flight and medical records and the plane’s traffic and maintenance records.

State police withheld the victims’ names, pending notification of kin.

The plane is owned by the Tracey Corp. of Midland, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, which also is investigating the crash.

Ronald Gatewood, president of the company, said he was “deeply saddened” by the crash.

Freeway Airport, which offers flight instruction and sightseeing flights, has about 200 daily departures and arrivals, Mr. Bernard said. Small planes often land there to refuel or pick up passengers, he added.

On Dec. 24, 2000, two men were injured when their Cessna went down in a wooded area just after taking off from Freeway.

On Oct. 13, 1998, a plane carrying a radio traffic reporter crashed into a house next to the airport. The pilot was killed and the reporter was seriously injured. The two persons inside the house were not hurt.

The airport was closed for more than three months after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Hani Hanjour, a hijacker on the plane that hit the Pentagon, flew with an instructor three times from Freeway and tried to lease a plane from there just weeks before the attacks.

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