Five dead after helicopter crash in New York City’s East River

The private helicopter was doing a photo shoot

Yellow buoys that a New York police officer said are suspending a helicopter that crashed on the East River float next to a NYPD police boat at a pier in New York on Sunday, March 11, 2018. The helicopter crashed into New York City’s East River Sunday night and flipped upside down in the water, killing at least a few people aboard and leaving some others in critical condition, officials said. (Andres Kudacki/AP)

A privately chartered helicopter doing a photo shoot crashed into New York City’s East River on Sunday night and flipped upside down in the water, killing all five passengers aboard, officials said.

A spokesman for the NYPD confirmed the deaths to The Associated Press early Monday.

Video taken by a bystander and posted on Twitter shows the red helicopter land hard in the water and then capsize, its rotors slapping at the water.

The helicopter went down near Gracie Mansion, the mayoral residence. One person, the pilot, freed himself and was rescued by a tugboat, officials said.

The passengers were recovered by police and fire department divers, who had to remove them from tight harnesses while they were upside down, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.

“It took awhile for the drivers to get these people out. They worked very quickly as fast as they could,” Nigro said. “It was a great tragedy that we had here.”

Witnesses on a waterfront esplanade near where the aircraft went down said the helicopter was flying noisily, then suddenly dropped into the water and quickly submerged. But the pilot appeared on the surface, holding onto a flotation device as a tugboat and then police boats approached.

“It’s cold water. It was sinking really fast,” Mary Lee, 66, told the New York Post. “By the time we got out here, we couldn’t see it. It was underwater.”

Celia Skyvaril, 23, told the Daily News that she could see a person on what looked like a yellow raft or float screaming and yelling for help.

News footage showed one victim being loaded into an ambulance while emergency workers gave him chest compressions.

A bystander, Susan Larkin, told The Associated Press that she went down to see rescue boats in the river and a police helicopter circling overhead, hovering low over the water.

“You could clearly see they were searching,” she said.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman said the Eurocopter AS350 went down just after 7 p.m. The aircraft was owned by Liberty Helicopters, a company that offers both private charters and sightseeing tours popular with tourists. A phone message left with the company was not immediately returned.

The skies over New York constantly buzz with helicopters carrying tourists, businesspeople, traffic reporters, medical teams and others. Crashes are not unheard of.

In 2009, a sightseeing helicopter of the same model and operated by the same company as the one in Sunday’s wreck collided with a small, private plane over the Hudson River, killing nine people, including a group of Italian tourists.

A crash in October 2011 in the East River killed a British woman visiting the city for her 40th birthday. Two other passengers died weeks later as a result of their injuries.

A helicopter on a sightseeing tour of Manhattan crashed into the Hudson River in July 2007, shaking up the eight people aboard but injuring no one. In June 2005, two helicopters crashed into the East River in the same week. One injured eight people including some banking executives. The other hit the water shortly after takeoff on a sightseeing flight, injuring six tourists and the pilot.

Nigro and Police Commissioner James O’Neill said the rescue operation Sunday took place in a 4 mph current in water about 50 feet (15 metres) deep, under challenging conditions.

The cause of the crash is unknown. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

Officials did not immediately release the names of the pilot or passengers or say how the passengers died.

The helicopter was recovered in the rescue operation and towed to a pier.

__

This story has been corrected to show that three people died from the 2011 crash, including two who died in the weeks after the crash.

Jennifer Peltz, The Associated Press

Just Posted

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Police patrol for looters in evacuated areas south of Burns Lake

RCMP have brought in extra officers for the task

Fire chases Burns Lake crews out of their own camp

Crews are having to leave after a wildfire reportedly overtook their sleeping quarters

Four seek federal Conservative nomination

Successful candidate to be chosen for Oct. 2019 federal election

Paul’s Bakery celebrates its 60th anniversary

Despite everything around it changing, the bakery has remained a family affair.

B.C. team stays alive in Little League World Series after another nail-biter

Surrey-based squad scored a 6-4 win over Mexico reps in Williamsport on Monday

Kids, seniors at risk as smoke from distant fires hangs over parts of B.C.

B.C. Centre for Disease Control says children’s lungs don’t fully develop until about age 10

B.C. mother charged in 7-year-old daughter’s death appears in court

The 36-year-old mother, of Langley’s Aaliyah Rosa, has been charged with second-degree murder

VIDEO: Teen soccer phenomenon Alphonso Davies to visit B.C. kids camp

The 17-year-old Vancouver Whitecap player is one of the youngest players in MLS history

New plan to lift more than two million people past the poverty line

Anti-poverty strategy will aim for 50 per cent cut in low-income rates: source

Liberals scrap lottery system for reuniting immigrants with their parents

Lottery for parent sponsorship to be replaced, more applications to be accepted

Bear kills off-leash dog in B.C. park

There have been nearly 200 pet or livestock and bear encounters so far this year

Most Read