The Montgomery County Planning Board and county's Parks Department recognized Tom Baker, a local volunteer firefigter and Parks Department manager, for his response to a plane crash in Gaithersburg last month. Credit: Montgomery County Planning

A longtime manager in the county’s Parks Department was recognized for his actions in responding to a plane crash in Gaithersburg last month.

Tom Baker, who has worked as a parks manager for over 18 years and manages 29 parks in the Rock Creek region of the county, was honored at a Planning Board meeting on Dec. 8, according to a news release. 

Baker is a volunteer deputy fire chief with Laytonsville District Volunteer Fire Department, and was dispatched to the plane crash, the release stated. He was in constant contact with the pilot of the plane, helping him remain calm and aware of rescue efforts, according to the release. 

“This went on for approximately seven hours until they were rescued,” Baker said in the release. “I was relaying information about their status to the medical command officer so he could keep the paramedics informed. In all my 27 active years as a volunteer, I have never responded to such a call. This is in fact a once in a lifetime incident.” 

Jeff Zyontz, the interim Planning Board chair, and Mike Riley, the county’s Parks Director, signed a certificate of appreciation, which read: “In appreciation for your professionalism, commitment, support, dedication and service to Montgomery County residents during the November 28, 2022, plane crash.”    

“Our employees demonstrate their dedication to serving Montgomery County residents every day, but Mr. Baker’s actions clearly go above and beyond,” Riley said. “We are very proud of his courageous efforts, which ultimately helped prevent a tragedy.”


Baker could not be reached for comment at the fire station.