Crop duster crashes: Pilot critically injured after airplane clips electrical wires along farm near Marydel

SANDTOWN — David Turney had just awakened when he heard a “kaboom” outside his rural home Wednesday morning.

He wasn’t immediately concerned, however.

“There’s always noises going on out here,” Mr. Turney said.

Turns out, Mr. Turney heard the sound of a crop duster airplane crashing into a soybean and green bean field about 100 yards from his home at approximately 9:20 a.m.

Pilot Robert E. Waring, 52, of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, was critically injured in the crash next to 945 Mahan Corner Road, about 12 miles west of Camden and a couple miles east of the Maryland border.

Mr. Turney, after looking outside, saw the crash scene and at least two people near the crumpled aircraft. He couldn’t see the pilot, but was told he had survived.

Investigators walk near a crop duster plane that crashed in a field on Mahan Corner Road near Marydel on Wednesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Marydel Fire Company members removed Mr. Waring from the plane. He was initially transported to Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital in Dover. Then he was transferred to the Christiana Medical Center in New Castle County.

“I was close enough to see a couple people already there and they didn’t look like they needed any more help,” Mr. Turney said.

A passing motorist called in the about the crash to 911 after watching it happen.

“He said he saw the plane come in over a cornfield, clip a power line and try to land in the field across the road,” Mr. Turney said.

“He was still very shaken up when he told me about it. I wish I would have gotten his name and number because he really did act quickly to report it.”

Mr. Turney said a Delaware State Police patrol vehicles arrived soon afterward.

“After that, the vehicles started rolling in,” said Mr. Turney.

Two fire companies, paramedics, a police helicopter and vehicles, the Delaware Division of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and Department of Agriculture came to the scene.

The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration also went to the scene as investigation continued later in the day, state police said.

Delaware Electric Co-Op workers repair power lines that were damaged after a crop duster plane that crashed in a field on Mahan Corner Road near Marydel on Wednesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Early investigation found that Mr. Waring was flying a 1964 Grumman G-164 fixed-wing, single-engine aircraft. He clipped electrical wires while pulling up from a dive to spray a corn field in the Papen Farms area, according to state police. The pilot lost control of the plane before crashing into the field on the west side of Mahan Corner Road, state police said.

DNREC and the Department of Agriculture personnel investigated the pesticides and insecticides carried by the aircraft, authorities said.

The Goldsboro Volunteer Fire Company of nearby Caroline County, Maryland, also responded.

A call to Magnolia-based Air Enterprises LLC — Mr. Waring’s employer — regarding the incident was not immediately returned.

According to spokesman Michael Globetti, “DNREC Emergency Response & Prevention Section was on-scene this morning and into the afternoon monitoring potential fuel leakage from the plane and a load of pesticide and fungicide that was aboard the crop duster – working in conjunction with Delaware Department of Agriculture and public safety partners that included DSP and local fire departments.”

About 40 Delaware Electric Cooperative members lost power, and responding crews replaced the downed span of line within 90 minutes.

“We are also happy the pilot survived,” DEC spokesman Jeremy Tucker said. “It’s a pretty dangerous job.”

After 11 years of seeing vehicles regularly crash in front of his home near a sharp curve, the aircraft crash was a new experience, Mr. Turney said.

“They (crop dusters) fly around here all the time and there’s never been a problem,” he said.

The Delaware Department of Transportation initially closed down Mahan Corner Road is closed between Del. 10 and Still Road, and announced it had reopened just after 11:30 a.m.

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