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Investigators: Pilot Error Caused Fatal Crash Into Md. House

GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WJZ) -- A year and a half later, federal officials say pilot error caused the plane crash that killed a mother and two young children inside their Gaithersburg home.

Meghan McCorkell has details on the fatal mistakes made.

Federal investigators now say the crash that killed six people could have been prevented.

In December 2014, fellow pilots watched in horror as a twin engine jet came crashing down in a Gaithersburg community. Marie Gemmell and her two young sons -- three-year-old Cole and one-month-old Devin -- were inside. They died huddled together on a bathroom floor.

Now federal investigators say deceased pilot Michael Rosenberg is to blame for the crash, failing to turn on his plane's de-icers.

"Unfortunately, this individual was apparently not adequately aware of the dangers of even small amounts of icing and failed to turn on his ice protection systems," Christopher Hart, NTSB chairman.

Ken Gemmell, who lost his wife and sons, says he's relieved to get answers.

"This is a good first step. It's good to know that this accident was preventable, and hopefully down the road, this will never happen again with their work today," he said.

The jet crashed less than a mile from the Montgomery County Airpark, sparking community concerns. The airpark first opened in 1960 when there were far fewer homes in the area.

"I would love for them to rethink some of the flight patterns," one neighbor said.

"The jets are too large, and they're getting bigger and bigger," said another.

Neighbors have asked the airport to change the direction of aircraft takeoff and increase altitude.

As for Ken Gemmel, his attorney has filed a lawsuit against the pilot's family and the maker of the jet.

"The pain never goes away, and hopefully, what the board just did will help prevent a crash like this from ever occurring again," said attorney Jamie Bebovitz.

The NTSB has now recommended ice-detection systems for all small jets.

The FAA reports 33 crashes at the Montgomery Airpark since 1983. Seven of them are listed as fatal.

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