East River helicopter crash: 5 dead were stuck in harnesses

Mar 14, 2018, 06:16
East River helicopter crash: 5 dead were stuck in harnesses

USA investigators probing a deadly helicopter crash in New York City's East River want to speak with the pilot who warned of engine failure before the chartered aircraft crashed into the icy water, killing all five passengers.

The red helicopter, which had been privately chartered for a photo shoot, hit the water and turned upside down at about 7 p.m. EDT (23 GMT) near the northern end of Roosevelt Island, just east of Manhattan.

Investigators began working Monday to determine what caused Sunday night's crash.

The five passengers were all still harnessed in when their bodies were recovered.

Five other passengers had to be cut out of their harnesses; three of them were taken to local hospitals where they later died and two were pronounced dead at the scene.

The pilot freed himself and was rescued by a tugboat.

The pilot of the helicopter, who managed to escape the overturned chopper, was the only survivor. He also photographed the helicopter as they cruised over the Statue of Liberty at dusk. Providing sightseeing trips since 1990, the company advertises "unparalleled safety records".

The company has not yet responded to requests for comment.

"Hanging upside-down in frigid water — stunned by the helicopter crash, tightly harnessed, release inaccessible, with no advanced training — is a death trap", said Robb, based in Kansas City, Missouri.

The pilot's landing she added was near flawless one in an emergency situation, Kaiser, owner of International Survival Standards of Aviation, said.

A senior law enforcement official told CNN that Vance believed one of the passengers' bags may have accidentally struck the chopper's emergency fuel shutoff button, which could have led to the crash, something that was not confirmed nor addressed by Dinh-Zarr.

"I saw it coming down toward the water".

The official also says the National Transportation Safety Board is looking closely at why an emergency flotation device on the helicopter apparently did not deploy properly.

"We are giving urgent attention to the use of harnesses specifically for aerial photography flights".

The helicopters took off within about 30 seconds of each other, Adams said, and the aircraft carrying the victims was the last one to leave. He said the pilot had initially thought that the passengers survived.

The doors to the Eurocopter AS350 were open so passengers could snap photos. On their back, between their shoulder blades, was a metal ring attached to a carabiner and tethered to the floor.

"The floats did inflate as you may have seen from the helicopter being pulled up". Liberty Helicopters offers both private charters and sightseeing tours popular with tourists.

Some Democratic New York city council members are pressing the city to take its own steps to crack down on helicopter tours, though it's unclear how much the city can do.

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