Body of victim in Chesapeake Bay crash recovered near Smith Island

Search crews on Monday recovered the body of a woman, believed to be the victim of a small plane crash over the weekend, from the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, police said.

Mary L. Lagerquist, 78, of Sequim, Wash., had been a passenger Sunday in a plane piloted by her son, Lanson C. Ross III, 48, of Fort Washington. Ross told investigators the two-seater, single-engine aircraft lost power and that he was trying to reach Smith Island.

Soon after his 3:30 p.m. distress call to Patuxent River Naval Air Station, he crashed into the Chesapeake Bay. The plane sank rapidly, but both Ross and his mother, who was injured in the crash, were able to exit, police said.

The two were attempting to swim together to shore in rough, chilly waters, but after about a mile she could not continue, police said. Her body was recovered off the southern end of Smith Island about 9 a.m. Monday, police said.

"He was helping her swim through rough seas with waves up to 5 feet and temperatures in the low 60s," said Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley. "You can only imagine how difficult that was."

Ross made it to shore about 8 p.m. and was taken to Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, where he was treated and released. The plane's wreckage has yet to be located.

The mother and son were flying back to Hyde Field in Clinton after an excursion to Tangier Island when the plane developed problems.

Soon after the plane disappeared from radar about three miles southwest of the island in Somerset County, the Coast Guard, Maryland Natural Resources Police and Virginia Marine Police conducted water and air searches of the area.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are continuing to investigate the crash and to work to recover the plane.

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