Westminster man among dead in midair collision near Frederick airport

The wreckage of a Cirrus SR 22 airplane is shown in this handout photo courtesy of WBAL-TV/SkyTeam11, near Frederick Municipal Airport in Frederick Oct. 23.
The wreckage of a Cirrus SR 22 airplane is shown in this handout photo courtesy of WBAL-TV/SkyTeam11, near Frederick Municipal Airport in Frederick Oct. 23. (HANDOUT, Reuters Photo)

FREDERICK — A Westminster man is among the three deceased after an airplane and helicopter collided in the air near Frederick Municipal Airport Thursday afternoon, injuring two other men.

Christopher D. Parsons, 29, of Westminster, was onboard the helicopter with William Jenkins, 47, of Morrison, Colo., and Breandan J. MacFawn, 35, of Cumberland, according to a news release issued by the Maryland State Police. Which one of the three was piloting the helicopter at the time of the crash has not yet been determined, according to the release.


A Cirrus SR22 plane was heading to the Frederick Municipal Airport and an R44 helicopter was involved in a training exercise when the collision occurred near the southwest corner of the airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. The statement said the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.

The plane went down in a line of trees east of downtown Frederick, while the helicopter crashed a tenth of a mile south, between two storage units, said Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley.

Scott V. Graeves, 55, of Brookeville, was piloting the airplane, and Gilbert L. Porter, 75, of Sandy Spring, was a passenger on the plane, according to the Maryland State Police news release. Both were taken to Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown Thursday afternoon but were released from the hospital that evening.

A parachute deployed from the plane following the 3:40 p.m. collision and was still attached to the aircraft when emergency responders arrived on the scene, said Capt. Kevin Fox of Frederick County Fire and Rescue. The large, red-and-white striped parachute could initially be seen still inflated and in the air, and then on the ground.

Ownership, origin and destination of each aircraft is under investigation, according to the Maryland State Police news release. The bodies of the deceased were removed at about 9 p.m. and were transported to Baltimore for autopsies.

Chris Wolfe, owner of Wolfe Moving Systems about a half-mile from the airport, said he heard the collision.

"We didn't see it happen. We just heard this loud bang," he said. "It sounded closer than what it was, but it was a hell of a collision."

According to the FlightAware aviation tracking website, the plane took off from Cleveland Regional Jetport in Cleveland, Tennessee.

A tail number visible in aerial footage from WJZ-TV in Baltimore is registered to Graeves Auto & Appliance in Olney, Maryland. A woman who answered the phone at the store about 4:30 p.m. said, "We can't give you any information" and hung up. According to the store's website, Scott Graeves is the owner of the business. No one immediately responded to a telephone message left at his home.

The collision prompted road closures at rush hour around the airport near Interstate 70.

The airport opened in 1948. It has two runways.

Nurse Nina Pham arrived at the airport last week from Dallas on her way to treatment for Ebola at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

—Associated Press and Times staff