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

PHOTOS: Pudding eating contest in Mission

As part of the annual soapbox derby, children were invited to try the pudding eating contest

Serial killer Robert Pickton transferred to Quebec: victim’s family

Pickton was convicted in December 2007 of six counts of second degree murder

PHOTOS: Mission racers use gravity to head down the hill

Annual soapbox derby featured more than 45 racers

UPDATE: Fire destroys Chilliwack restaurant

Popular Banners Restaurant goes up in flames Sunday morning.

‘Daddy bonus’ common in B.C. workplaces, study finds

UBC researchers say dads don’t have to be number one in the office to get a raise

VIDEO: Canadian toddler caught practising hockey skills in crib

Eli Graveline is getting praise from far and wide as the internet freaks out of cute throwback video

Man facing charges after baby food stolen from Richmond doorstep

A 40-year-old man is facing several charges

Man shot dead in Surrey ID’d as hockey coach and father of two

Murder of Paul Bennett – a respected Peace Arch Hospital worker and ‘champion of sport’ – ‘not random’

10 of TransLink’s most used SkyTrain routes

TransLink released its 2017 Transit Network Performance Review, offering snapshot of ridership

Serial speeder clocked going 138 km/hr in 90 zone

Driver had their vehicle impounded

Canadian Syrian children’s choir not to attend festival over fears about U.S. travel

Many kids are recent immigrants from countries covered by Trump travel ban

VIDEO: Plane crashes in Langley farm field (updated)

Plane lost power shortly after takeoff, RCMP told

Most Read