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Falling aircraft debris nearly hits man outside Maine State House

A large metal piece of aircraft debris crashed outside the main entrance of the State House in Augusta on Friday, narrowly missing a security screener.

The mystery 6- to 7-pound sleeve-like object landed at a high speed roughly 6 to 8 feet from Capitol Police Screener Craig Donahue as he was walking outside, according to Chief Matthew Clancy of the Capitol Police. Donahue and two witnesses were not injured.

The aircraft part that fell to the ground near the State House in Augusta.
Maine State Police
The aircraft part that fell to the ground near the State House in Augusta.

Clancy said in an interview that he immediately contacted the Federal Aviation Administration and the nearby Augusta State Airport. The FAA was investigating within minutes, he said.

“Our immediate concern was that there’s an aircraft missing a part,” Clancy said. “It could have catastrophic results.”

The FAA has launched an investigation and is attempting to locate where the part came from. It is likely from a large airliner on an international route, Clancy said, but they still have not determined its origin.

Federal officials have contacted all international flights in the general area, with inspections currently occurring to see where the part fell from. The loss of the piece evidently didn’t affect the plane it came from because all flights under investigation landed safely, Clancy said.

The FAA believes that the metal sleeve could have dropped from a wing-flap structure.

Donahue was not available for an interview Monday. Clancy said he was “shaken” by the incident but doing well and thankful that the piece had not arrived when more people were congregating outside the Capitol.

There can be 200 or 300 people in that area when the Legislature is in session, Clancy said, especially if a rally is taking place. It was unlike anything the Capitol Police had ever seen, Clancy said.

“It could have had very very tragic results,” Clancy said. “And if it struck the State House, it probably would have done some damage.”

The FAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the incident.

This story appears through a partnership with the Bangor Daily News.