Clues sought in crash that killed pilot in Calvert Co.

Edgewater man, 66, died when plane went down

March 01, 2000|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Federal investigators were picking through debris in Calvert County woods yesterday, hoping to find the cause of a small airplane crash that killed the lone occupant -- an Edgewater man who was just days from retirement.

The victim, Robert L. Poetzman, 66, of the 1200 block of Turkey Point Road, died from injuries suffered in the crash, according to the state medical examiner's office, which ruled out a heart attack or other medical conditions as a factor.

Witnesses reported that the twin-engine Cessna Skymaster was tilting to the right as it approached the woods in Prince Frederick, where it crashed about 3 p.m. Monday. They said they could not hear the engine as it passed overhead, according to 1st Sgt. Michael Hawkins of the state police barracks in Prince Frederick.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators were examining the crash site and wreckage. "They haven't given us any clues as to whether it ran out of fuel or what happened," Hawkins said. "We just don't know."

The plane hit the tops of several pine trees and went down about 50 yards from Apple Orchards, a residential area of single-family homes near Sixes Road, Hawkins said. The airplane was destroyed.

Poetzman was on his way to Lee Airport in Edgewater, returning from a trip to Georgia, police said. He and his wife, Barbara, 54, had bought a home there, in a waterfront community with a private landing strip, and had planned on retiring there soon, neighbor Doris Miller said.

After a brief visit to their new home, they were returning to Maryland -- Mrs. Poetzman driving their two cats in her husband's company car and Mr. Poetzman flying with their dog, Lady -- to turn in the car and sell the Edgewater house where they had lived for 20 years, Miller said.

The dog -- adopted after its owner, a neighbor, died -- also was killed in the crash.

"He was a very good pilot," said Miller of her neighbor. She did not know what company Poetzman worked for. "He didn't take chances. He was just a very pleasant man, and we're going to miss him."

Members of the Poetzman family could not be reached.

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