- The Washington Times - Monday, October 3, 2011

Searchers on Monday morning recovered the body of an elderly women suspected of being killed in a small-plane crash over the weekend, according to the Maryland State Police.

The body has unofficially been identified as Mary L. Lagerquist, 78, of Sequim, Wash.

Police say she died after the single-engine plane her son was piloting lost power Sunday afternoon and crashed in the Chesapeake Bay near Smith Island. He body was found at about 9 a.m. Monday off the southern point of the island.

The pilot has been identified as Lanson C. Ross, III, 48, of Ft. Washington. He was treated and released overnight at Peninsula Regional Medical Center, in Salisbury.

The plane has yet to be recovered, but the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration will be responsible for investigating the cause of the crash.

Mr. Ross told state police investigators the two-seater plane malfunctioned while he was trying to reach Smith Island. He said he and his mother were able to exit the downed plane before it sank. Mr. Ross said they swam together for about a mile in 3- to 5-feet-high waves before she died and he continued to the island, where he arrived at about 8 p.m.

A preliminary investigation indicates the accident occurred when Mr. Ross and his mother were returning from a day trip from Hyde Field, in Clinton, Md., to Tangier Island. Mr. Ross radioed the Patuxent River Naval Air Station to say he would try instead to reach Smith Island. He told state police he was forced to land the plane in the water and that it sank rapidly.

A state police helicopter from Salisbury began an air search at about 3:30 p.m. Sunday after getting a call from the air station. Officials said the plane disappeared from radar about three miles off the southwest side of Smith Island.

The Coast Guard joined the state police search by dispatching an aircraft and a vessel to the area. The Maryland Natural Resources Police and a state police helicopter from St. Mary’s County also assisted in the search.

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