A helicopter crashed into the East River at 90 St in Manhattan, New York, injuring 5 people. The helicopter was reportedly a “tour helicopter” carrying several people. All five passengers — four men and one woman — on board were killed, and the pilot was the only one to survive. Two people were pronounced dead at the scene, while the other three were later pronounced dead at the hospital.
According to The Federal Aviation Administration, the Eurocopter AS350 “went down” near Roosevelt Island around 7 p.m. EST, adding that the chopper went upside down in the water. A witness speaking to the New York Post said that the helicopter disappeared beneath the water “in minutes.” Another witness said that one person was seen being pulled from the water onto a raft.
Rescue operations began immediately. The FAA said they are investigating the accident.
At this time, it is not clear what caused the crash. The names of the victims have not yet been released. The pilot has been identified 33-year-old Richard Vance of Danbury, Connecticut. The FAA said that Vance is a certified helicopter pilot and instructor, and his LinkedIn says he’s been working with Fly Liberty Charters since April 2016. Before he began working with Fly Liberty Charters, Vance was employed by the Northeast Helicopters in Ellington as a flight instructor from 2012 to 2016.
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro that the five deceased were all tightly harnessed. The Harnesses had to be cut and removed in order to free them from the helicopter. Furthermore, he said that the water temperature and conditions made it difficult for divers to reach the victims.
via ABC 7:
“We were having dinner and we noticed a red helicopter going full speed towards the water. It almost looked very surreal and next thing we know it’s approaching the water slowly and then it just completely crashed and then sunk. Immediate reaction was to call 911,” said eyewitness Arineh Nazarian.
The Post reports that there are only two Eurocopter AS350’s registered with the FAA in the tri-state area — both to the New Jersey parent company of tour operator Fly Liberty Charters. The FAA said that the National Transportation Safety Board will work to determine the probable cause of the incident.
According to the New York Daily News:, “Liberty Helicopters employees did not respond to phone calls and emails requesting comment and several people gathered at their Kearny office after midnight Monday refused to answer questions when confronted by reporters.”
The East River is a salt water tidal estuary in New York City. The waterway, which is actually not a river despite its name, connects Upper New York Bay on its south end to Long Island Sound on its north end. The East River separates the borough of Queens on Long Island from the Bronx and also divides Manhattan from Queens and Brooklyn.