Five Passengers Dead, Pilot Only Survivor In New York River Helicopter Crash

Mark LennihanAP Images

All five passengers of the downed private helicopter in New York City have been confirmed dead. Three of the five passengers were taken to the nearest hospital as they were still alive, but were suffering from critical injuries. Unfortunately, the New York City Fire Department later confirmed that all three passengers had died. According to a report from CNN, the pilot of the aircraft was the only survivor of the crash. The private helicopter, owned by Liberty Helicopters, crashed into the city’s East River near Roosevelt Island at 7 p.m. ET last Sunday.

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro explained in an interview that the pilot had only managed to survive because he was immediately able to free himself from his seat. The pilot had reportedly been taken to the hospital for observation. The other passengers were apparently not that lucky as rescuers had a hard time removing them from their seats because of their tight harnesses. Rescuers resorted to using knives to cut the harnesses to free the victims from their seats.

The helicopter was reportedly already submerged and upside down when responders had reached the crash site. LaGuardia Airport operators were able to hear the helicopter’s final mayday call before it hit the water, with the pilot saying that they were experiencing engine failure. Several people had apparently witnessed the crash and some were able to record the entire event. Some of the witnesses had posted their videos on social media.

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently investigating the incident to determine whether or not human error, mechanical failure, or weather conditions had anything to do with the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board will then determine the probable cause of the crash, which it will then divulge to the public. Investigators have reportedly already arrived in New York City.

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The downed aircraft has been revealed to be a state-of-the-art Airbus Eurocopter AS350, which is one of 10 helicopters owned and operated by Liberty Helicopters. The company touts itself as the “largest and most experienced helicopter sightseeing and charter service” in the city. The particular aircraft that crashed on Sunday was reportedly chartered for a private photo shoot. The identities of the deceased victims and the pilot that survived have not yet been revealed.