- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 12, 2019

Maryland and federal authorities are investigating a small plane that crash-landed Thursday morning near a regional airport in Prince George’s County, hampering traffic for hours on a major thoroughfare between the District and Annapolis.

The aircraft crashed into a car that was traveling east on U.S. Route 50 near Church Road about 11:20 a.m., injuring two people onboard the plane and two people in the car, Maryland State Police said.

All four people were treated for minor injuries at the scene by Prince George’s County Fire and EMS workers.

Authorities identified the plane’s pilot as Julius Tolson Jr., 58, of Laurel, and the passenger as Michael Garrah, 57, of Columbia. Mr. Tolson and Mr. Garrah declined to be taken to a hospital for their injuries.

The driver of the car — a Nissan Versa — was identified as Ryan McClain, 29, of the District, and his passenger as Eric Diprospero, 31, of Baltimore. Mr. McClain and Mr. Diprospero were transported to a hospital for treatment of their minor injuries, authorities said.

State police said Mr. Tolson’s propeller-driven aircraft — a Mooney M20J — appears to have crashed as it was attempting to take off from Freeway Airport in Bowie.

Low-flying planes are a common sight along that stretch of U.S. Route 50.

The end of the airport’s runway is several yards from the eastbound lanes of the highway, a key thoroughfare between the nation’s capital and Maryland’s capital city.

Eastbound and westbound traffic on Route 50 was halted for several hours, as officials treated the injured, cleared the debris and investigated the crash. Long backups ensued: The highway’s nearest off-ramps are located miles from site of the crash.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it will continue the investigation and the National Transportation Safety Board will determine the probable cause of the crash.

According to preliminary data from the FAA, Mooney aircraft have been involved in 11 incidents or crashes this year.

Five were fatal crashes, two of which were the same model as the plane that crashed Thursday in Bowie.

Since 1983, there have been 26 incidents at Freeway Airport, according to FAA data.

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