By Jim Joyner and Jon Meoli, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
1:23 PM EDT, June 16, 2012
The lone occupant of an airplane that crashed Friday morning at Carroll County Regional Airport in Westminster has died.
Maryland State Police spokeswoman Elena Russo confirmed Friday afternoon that the man died at Maryland Shock Trauma Center of injuries suffered in the crash.
Police identified him as Henry Judkins, 64, of Derwood in Montgomery County. Police said he was the pilot and the only person aboard the Remos GX, a "light sport" aircraft.
Police said they and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.
A preliminary investigation indicated Judkins was one mile away from the airport when he reported mechanical problems. Police said witnesses was the aircraft flying at varying altitudes before descending into a grassy area about 40 feet before the runway.
The crash occurred between 10:15 and 10:30 a.m., according to reports. Responders from the Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Co. 1 were the first to arrive, according to Gil Roper, public information officer for the Westminster company.
He said the pilot had been thrown from the single-engine, fixed-wing plane.
"We found him about 50 feet from the airplane," said Roper, who was among those responding to the scene. "He was still strapped in his seat.
"There wasn't much left of the plane," Roper said.
He said Westminster fire and paramedic crews administered aid to Judkins until a helicopter arrived to take him to Shock Trauma.
They had expected him to be transported via helicopter — and in fact the man was loaded into the state police helicopter — but mechanical problems with the aircraft forced its grounding. Westminster emergency crews transported the victim instead, Roper said.
"They actually had put him on" the helicopter, Roper said. "They were revving up to go, and the doors came open and they motioned for us to come get him."
Russo confirmed that the helicopter had a mechanical issue and was grounded at the scene. In a release, state police said that, "Without delay, the pilot called for a second helicopter."
The injured man was put in an ambulance, and began the trip to Shock Trauma on the ground. Along the way, Roper said, the crew was told to meet another state helicopter at Mitchell's Golf Center in Reisterstown.
There, Roper said, the man was transferred to the new helicopter and flown to Shock Trauma.
Roper said early Friday afternoon that he did not know the pilot's specific condition, but said that the man's "Priority 1" status indicated critical injuries.
State police said Judkins died at Shock Trauma.
Joe McKelvey, manager of the airport, was not available for comment, but Carroll County spokeswoman Roberta Windham said the crash did not involve spilled fuel or hazardous materials, and there was no damage to the airport.
According to a news release from the Carroll County commissioners, the cause of the crash is under investigation, and state police said the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the incident in an attempt to determine the exact cause.
In addition to crews from Westminster, the Pleasant Valley Community Fire Department also responded to the scene, as did the Westminster Police Department.
The airport was closed Friday afternoon and evening, but Windham sent out an alert Saturday just after noon that it had been reopened.
This story has been updated.