A pilot watched his injured, 78-year-old mother die in the rough waters of the Chesapeake Bay as they both tried to swim to safety after his single-engine airplane crashed and sank more than a mile off the shore of Smith Island, Maryland State Police said Monday.
Lanson C Ross III, 48, of Fort Washington, was treated for minor injuries after reaching the island at about 8 p.m. Sunday, more than four hours after his Globe GC-1 Swift plane disappeared from radar. Police said the plane was about three miles southwest of the island when it disappeared.
His mother was Mary L. Lagerquist, of Sequim, Wash.
Ross told police that he had flown his mother in the two-seater on Sunday from Hyde Field in Clinton to Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay. They were starting their trip back to Clinton when the plane malfunctioned, he said. Police say Ross radioed the nearby Patuxent River Naval Air Station and told them he would try to reach Smith Island.
He told police he was forced to land in the water and the plane sank rapidly after he and his mother got out. Ross said his mother was hurt but managed to swim about a mile with his help.
"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," Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley said in a written statement.
The plane hasn't been found, Shipley said.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it has assigned an investigator to the case.