Teams Established Surveillance Post To Monitor Crash Scene
Members from six units
of the Maryland Wing of the Civil Air Patrol have earned high
praise for their service to the National Transportation Safety
Board and the Maryland State Police this month, by performing a
site surveillance mission following the crash of a Piper Tomahawk
on May 4 in Laurel, MD.
The mission was initiated during an in-progress task to find an
emergency locator transmitter (ELT), somewhere in Maryland. The Air
Force Rescue Coordination Center contacted incident commander, Col.
Larry Trick, from the Maryland Wing, who began assigning aircraft
and ground teams to locate the signal source, according to the
Maryland CAP Wing.
A CAP Cessna 182 aircraft and aircrew from the St. Mary's
squadron was launched and detected a second signal in the vicinity
of Tipton Airfield. A ground team from the Bowie squadron team was
redirected to that area. They arrived shortly after the pilot had
The pilot apparently attempted to make an emergency landing on
Old Portland Road, a narrow two lane street near the airport, but
impacted an area of trees. Pilot Robert Richard James Jr. was
airlifted to the Maryland Shock Trauma center in Baltimore,
according the Bowie Blade-News.
Following a request by the Maryland State Police and the NTSB,
the Bowie team, led by 1st Lt. Jeff Welch, established a
surveillance post to monitor the crash scene. CAP often supports
the NTSB by providing evidence-monitoring services at crash
More than 30 CAP officers and cadets worked eight-hour shifts
through the weekend monitoring the wreckage site until the plane
was cleared for removal.
Given the length of the mission, the Bowie team was later
relieved by teams from Annapolis, Arundel, Prince Frederick, St.
Mary's and Group 3 headquarters.
A team from the Wicomico Squadron continued the search for the
original ELT signal, which was isolated to an area of Maryland's
The teams handled all manner of scene evidence preservation and
even responded to media inquiries.
Lt. Welch said he is proud of his team's contributions. "Bowie
Ground Team members -- all volunteers -- operated flawlessly over
an extended period of time. I am very proud of my unit and their
commitment to doing Missions for America," he said.