Golfer Rushed To Help Occupants Escape Burning Plane

Golfer Rushed To Help Occupants Escape Burning Plane
Photo by John Whaley

BERLIN — The small plane that crashed on a West Ocean City golf course early Friday morning, injuring two occupants, came in low across the course, took a nose dive on the eighth  hole fairway and burst into flames, according to a witness who was first on the scene and pulled the two victims from the wreck.

Frank Jamison of Dickerson, Md. was standing over a putt on the 7th green at Assateague Greens golf course off Route 611 around 9:15 a.m. when he saw a small plane heading toward the adjacent Ocean City Municipal Airport uncharacteristically low with its wings teetering. Seconds later, the single-engine Beechcraft Debonair conducted a hard landing on the eighth hole fairway.

“My wife dropped me off at the golf course around 8 a.m. and I think I was the first golfer out there this morning,” Jamison said later on Friday. “I heard and saw small planes coming and going all morning, and I was waiting to putt on the seventh green when I saw one flying really low over the golf course. Its wings were teetering like they sometimes do when they are waving to people and it kept getting lower.”

Jamison said the plane was not making any odd noises as if it was having engine trouble. It soon became apparent it was going to go down on the golf course, according to Jamison.

“It kept getting lower and lower and I remember thinking he’s going to put it down in the pond behind the eighth green,” he said. “The plane overshot the pond and hit eighth fairway, landed right on its nose and did not quite a 360 before it burst into flames.”

Jamison was just feet away and was first on the scene. He quickly attempted to get the two victims, a husband and wife from Berlin, out of the plane with it still engaged in flames.

“I ran over and the pilot was visibly injured and was kind of leaning forward with his head over the controls,” he said. “The female passenger looked like she was in a daze, but was conscious. There was a grounds crew member nearby and he was calling 911. I tried to communicate with them and they were both conscious, but the woman was a little frantic. The groundskeeper asked if I could get them out and I told him I’m sure as heck going to try.”

Jamison said he was able to get the two victims out of the burning plane, but it wasn’t easy.

“The woman couldn’t get out at first and I told her to just crawl out and I helped her get away from the plane,” he said. “The man was kind of hung up in there, but I was able to pull him out and get him away.”

By now, others on the golf course had arrived with fire extinguishers and were able to briefly quell the flames, but they continued to flare up.

“Each time it looked like the fire was out, the flames started flaring up again,” he said. “The woman kept saying the plane is full of fuel, the plane is full of fuel.”

Minutes later, help arrived in the form of massive response from allied emergency services and law enforcement agencies.

“The cavalry showed up pretty quickly,” he said. “There was the fire department, police, EMTs, I think even the park service was out there. They did a great job, but the ambulances were getting stuck because they had been watering the course all morning. It was a little chaotic.”

Jamison said other than flying a little low and teetering its wings, the plane gave no indication it was in trouble until it nose-dived into the 8th fairway.

“It never sounded to me like the plane was losing power,” he said. “I never heard it choking out or throttling back.”

According to Maryland State Police Communications, the occupants of the aircraft have been identified as Guerrino Mascelli and Mary Mascelli, both 60, of Berlin. Guerrino Mascelli was flown to Peninsula Regional Medical Center via MSP Aviation, while Mary Mascelli was transported by ambulance to the same hospital for treatment of her injuries.

Once the fire was extinguished, Ocean City Fire Department crews turned the scene over to the Maryland State Police and the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office. No one on the ground was injured as a result of the crash. The investigation is ongoing and the cause of the crash remains under investigation. More details will be provided as they become available.

As for Jamison, his early morning round of golf was cut short with no regrets.

“I just wanted to help and I was lucky to be there,” he said. “I was one-over par and was having a good round. After all that, I had to take a walk on the beach just to decompress a little. The golf course gave me a raincheck.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.