A U.S. Park Service helicopter sets down in the street during the mass evacuation order following a Cessna 150 entering the Washington D.C. “no fly zone.” Federal buildings including the Capitol and the White House were ordered to evacuate. Photo by Stuart Montieth

Santa Paulan steps off train in Washington and into mass evacuation

May 13, 2005
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesWhen Stuart Monteith stepped off the train at Union Station in Washington, D.C. Wednesday, she was unprepared for being in the middle of a massive evacuation prompted by a plane violating the airspace near the White House. An all clear was called shortly after the incident that turned out to be an accidental breach on the part of the student pilot in the small single-engine plane.“It was rather interesting,” said Monteith Thursday in a phone interview from the nation’s Capitol “We were coming out of Union Station to meet with Rep. Elton Gallegly and Rep. Lois Capps,” when the group stepped into the brush with feared terrorism.Monteith, the president of the Ventura County Coastal Association of Realtors, said, “There were mobs of people standing around,” including police and other law enforcement officers on horseback. At first Monteith believed that perhaps President Bush was about to make an appearance - unaware that he was on a Maryland bicycle trip - and was told that the crowd was due to an evacuation.“They said it was a code red and a very serious threat,” as more and more police vehicles arrived on scene and a helicopter landed in the middle of the street. “The people in the helicopter looked very” Secret Service, noted Monteith, who started to snap photographs. Within minutes the incident was cleared.“We got there after the panic had calmed down,” when those evacuated had been “instructed to run.... We did meet with Elton later in the day and he confirmed it had been a code red situation. He said they were told to get out of the building and told to run, run faster, run faster,” as the plane approached. “This student pilot was having a pretty bad day...if planes come within two miles they would shoot them down.”
Although Capitol personnel have been evacuated in the past, “This was the most serious one of them all. They were told over and over again to get out of the building, get out of the building,” so serious was the perceived threat in the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center and Pentagon.Attending a National Association of Realtors conference, Monteith said Bush would address the group tomorrow, but “We’re on our way right now to Arlington National Cemetery,” the resting place of generations of Monteith’s family.Although raised in the area, Monteith always loves to visit: “It’s been just a wonderful week here. Washington is just magnificent place; no matter how many times I see this city it never ceases to amaze me.”

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