A single-engine plane transporting a radioactive drug crashed while taking off from Suburban Airport near Laurel in Anne Arundel County early yesterday morning, injuring both passengers, Maryland State Police said.
The Piper Lance aircraft crashed at about 12:15 a.m. into a wooded area about 300 yards from the airport's runway, a Federal Aviation Administration investigator said. On board were about 30 containers of the radioactive element molybdenum 99, used in certain medical treatments, but none of the containers was ruptured in the crash, according to a state health department expert who examined the wreckage.
The plane's pilot, Brijinder Soni, 28, of 7951 Riggs Road, Adelphi, was treated for head and neck injuries at University Hospital in Baltimore and released.
The aircraft's only other passenger, William F. Keintz, 39, of 8901 Orwood La., Laurel, who was pinned in the wreckage for two hours, suffered a broken leg. He was listed in satisfactory condition yesterday, a hospital official said.
Robert Corcoran, of the state Environmental Health Administration, said the radioactive drug was packed in lead containers surrounded by styrofoam inside cardboard cartons. There was absolutely no contamination," Corcoran said.
The drug molybdenum 99 is used in medical research and can be injected into patients undergoing diagnostic tests such as lung, brain and liver scans, police said.
Maryland State Trooper J.T. Snyder said preliminary findings indicate that the crash may have resulted from a cargo overload. He said the six-seat plane was carrying just over 700 pounds of cargo and was en route to Atlanta. FAA officials have not completed their investigation into the cause of the crash as of late yesterday.
The aircraft, valued at $75,000, was destroyed, investigators said. It is owned by the Suburban Air Service.