Five have died after a private helicopter crashed in the East River in New York City, and video captured the moment the helicopter entered the water. You can watch the video below but be aware that it is disturbing. In addition, three people were in critical condition in hospitals in the hours immediately after the crash.
Eric Phillips, the press secretary for New York’s mayor, confirmed the first fatalities on Twitter. “The Mayor was just briefed by the police and fire commissioners. At least one survivor, at least two fatalities. Divers are still in the water,” he wrote. According to CBS Local, “Eurocopter AS350 went down in the river near the northern end of Roosevelt Island at around 7 p.m.” The New York Daily News later reported that all five people on the helicopter had died. The pilot escaped and lived.
The widely circulated video was first posted by Twitter user @JJmagers. “@cnn @FoxNews just witnessed a helicopter crash into the East River .. hope everyone’s ok. Caught it all on tape!” he wrote. The pilot may have reported engine failure via a mayday call.
The New York Police Department confirmed that six people were on board the helicopter. The names of the victims had not yet been released on the evening of March 11, 2018. The cause of the crash has also not yet been released. Stretchers were seen by reporters who responded to the scene. Horrifically, Daniel Nigro, the FDNY commissioner, said the people were strapped into their seats. “One of the most difficult parts of the rescue were that five people were tightly harnessed,” Nigro said. “People had to be cut out.”
The New York Post reported that the chopper was a tour helicopter. The pilot survived, the newspaper reported. According to The Post, the passengers on the helicopter “were trapped inside the sinking vessel while the pilot scrambled to safety.” Here’s video of the NYPD responding to the scene. Divers recovered five of the victims, and one person was rescued by tug boat, according to CBS News.
“There was about a minute where we didn’t see anyone come out,” witness Brianna Jesme, 22, told The New York Post in an interview. “Then after a minute, we saw a man come out holding onto a raft screaming: ‘Help! help! Ah!’ and then inaudible screams.” Video footage also showed one of the survivors of the crash at the scene.
Eric Adams, a photographer, took photos of the doomed helicopter. He told The New York Daily News the passengers included three men and a woman and that two of them were from Texas.
Other videos captured images of the chopper from other angles.
The NYPD released a brief statement on Twitter. “A helicopter earlier this evening descended into the East River near East 90 St. Numerous NYPD & @FDNY personnel still on the scene including Harbor and divers in the water. Expect delays on the FDR due to this,” NYPD tweeted.
Some photos also emerged from the crash.
The New York Fire Department sent divers to the scene. Authorities gave a statement from the scene.
One woman was killed and three were injured in 2011 when another helicopter crashed in the river. Tourist helicopters are a common site in New York City. The amateur video on the 2018 crash immediately went viral after it was posted on Twitter.
Liberty Helicopter Tours and “was hired for a private photoshoot,” CBS reported. It was not clear why the people on the chopper were taking photos.