Tuesday 22 May 2018

New York City helicopter crash pilot reported engine failure

A woman from Argentina and a video journalist are among the dead after the tragedy in the East River.

A helicopter is hoisted by crane from the East River onto a barge (Mark Lennihan/AP/PA)
A helicopter is hoisted by crane from the East River onto a barge (Mark Lennihan/AP/PA)

By Jennifer Peltz

A Texas firefighter, an Argentine woman and a video journalist were among five passengers killed when a helicopter plunged into New York City’s East River, after the pilot reported the engine had failed.

Investigators are working to determine what caused Sunday night’s crash, which killed everyone on board except the pilot, who managed to free himself as the helicopter flipped over and rapidly sank into the water.

As the aircraft foundered, he made a mayday call and added: “East River – engine failure.”

The passengers included Fire-Rescue Officer Brian McDaniel; Trevor Cadigan, a video journalist who hailed from Dallas but had recently worked at a business news site in New York; and Carla Vallejos Blanco, who was from Argentina, according to its consulate.

Mr McDaniel, 26, had been with the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department since May 2016.

“Despite his short tenure, hearts are heavy with grief,” the department said in a statement.

Mr Cadigan, also 26, had most recently been an intern at Business Insider until a few weeks ago.

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Trevor Cadigan (WFAA/AP)

“He was a smart, talented, and ambitious young journalist and producer who was well-liked and made a big contribution,” the news site said in a statement.

The Eurocopter AS350 helicopter had been chartered for a photo shoot. It went down about 7pm local time in the water near New York’s mayoral residence.

The pilot was rescued by a tugboat. Emergency divers had to remove the passengers from tight safety harnesses while they were upside down, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.

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

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Officials including New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill deliver an update on the situation (WNYW via AP)

The National Transportation Safety Board dispatched investigators on Monday. Several officials in NTSB jackets looked on from a dock as police divers went into the water around the submerged helicopter, apparently to hook it to a crane that would lift it from the water.

The cause of the crash has not been determined.

The aircraft was owned by Liberty Helicopters, a company that offers both private charters and sightseeing tours popular with tourists.

The company referred inquiries to authorities, saying it is focused on the victims’ families and the investigation.

Press Association

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