The five victims in the deadly East River crash of a touring helicopter Sunday evening have been named by the New York Daily News. The pilot, Richard ‘Rick’ Vance survived.
Two helicopter employees, two tourists, and a journalist were aboard. The dead are: Carla Vallejos Blanco, 28, a tourist from Argentina; helicopter company employees, Tristan Hill, 29, and Daniel Thompson, 34; Brian McDaniel, a Dallas firefighter; and Trevor Cadigan, a journalist originally from Dallas.
There were a total of six people on board NYC Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said in a news conference. “The pilot freed himself. The other five did not. The police, fire divers entered the water and removed the other five.”
Two were dead at the scene and three were taken to Bellevue Hospital but were reported deceased after 2 a.m. Monday.
JJ Magers captured the crash of the rotary-wing aircraft into the near freezing river on video posted to her Twitter page. The helicopter appeared to lose altitude, made a hard landing in the river as the rotors cut through the icy waters, it caromed, tilted and began to sink.
Trevor Cadigan and Brian McDaniel were close and longtime friends who graduated high school and college together. McDaniel was visiting Cadigan in New York.
Trevor graduated from Southern Methodist University in 2016, moved to New York last fall and began working at a business magazine, his father told NBC 5 Dallas-Ft. Worth.
“Trevor had recently moved to New York and was living his dream working in journalism. Trevor grew up at WFAA and later served as an intern in the WFAA news department. All funds received will go directly to Jerry Cadigan to help with travel expenses, funeral arrangements and honoring Trevor.”
“This GoFundMe page has been set up by the employees of WFAA, Channel 8 in Dallas, Texas, for the direct benefit to Trevor Cadigan’s father, longtime WFAA employee, Jerry Cadigan.”
A 2015 photo from Facebook of Trevor and his father Jerry,
Trevor was until recently working as an intern with ‘Business Insider’ magazine who issued the following statement.
“We were devastated to hear about the death of Trevor Cadigan. Trevor was an intern at Business Insider until a few weeks ago. He was a smart, talented, and ambitious young journalist and producer who was well-liked and made a big contribution. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.”
Brian McDaniel was a Dallas firefighter and a SMU graduate, local media reported. A spokesperson for Dallas Fire-Rescue confirmed McDaniel, a two-year veteran of the department, worked at Station 36.
A message from the Fire Station 36, C-Shift reads in part, “Officer McDaniel, 26, was an almost two-year member of the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department, and was assigned to Fire Station 36, on the C-shift. Officer McDaniel was single, and had no children, but was immediately survived by his Father, of Dallas; and his Mother and older Brother, of Denver, CO. Despite his short tenure, hearts are heavy with grief as we not only try to come to grips with his loss departmentally; but to also be there in every way that we can for his family. The family asks for privacy during this trying time.”
Carla Vallejos Blanco
The Argentine consulate in New York confirmed for Spanish language publications that Blanco, 28, was a recent graduate with an advertising degree visiting New York with a friend. Carla posted photos with New York City in the backdrop.
Her Instagram is set to private but her profile picture is visible.
Originally from Reno, Nevada, Tristan was the director of operations at Sightsy, a tourism website.
Tristan, who graduated from Missouri Valley College with a business degree, worked in basketball operations at Madison Square Garden, and he spent a month in Belgium as a research assistant at NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
Tristan was a volunteer basketball coach for the Boys and Girls Club of America, and was director at the Northern Nevada Blue Chip Basketball Camp for kids.
Tristan, whose interests were varied and his future bright, belonged to the Army Aviation Association of America. And he spoke Turkish.
Perhaps the most devastating part of this tragedy was that Tristan was to going to be married in May.
Originally from Springfield, Illinois, Daniel worked for the helicopter tour company and was reportedly on board with Tristan Hill checking out sightseeing and photos opps for the tourism website Sightsy, where Tristan was operations director.
Daniel attended and sang with the angels at East River Catholic Church on the Upper East Side. For nearly a decade, Daniel, a baritone, sang with the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus.
The chorus, shocked and grief-stricken, posted this tribute to Daniel on Facebook.
“It is with deep sadness that the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus (YNYC) confirms the death of their Board President and chorus member Daniel Thompson, a victim along with four others in a tragic helicopter crash in the East River on Sunday night, March 11, 2018.
Daniel was a treasured member of the YNYC Mixed Ensemble since 2008, serving on the board for eight years and taking over as its President in 2016 to lead the non-profit. He was an integral part of growing the organization, helping to achieve its mission of bringing innovative choral music to new audiences. His love of music and dedication to the organization and its members will be greatly missed.
Daniel loved his friends unconditionally and was always there – at any hour of the day or night. He was passionate and kind, and was always someone to lean on. He had both a mighty voice, as well as a mighty heart. The YNYC community is shocked and devastated by this loss, and extends its condolences to family, friends, and loved ones of all the victims of this tragic accident.”
Daniel earned a bachelors degree in arts administration from Butler University in Indianapolis in 2006, local media reported.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating and the NTSB has been posting updates on Twitter.
Helicopters buzz above the New York skyline and the East and Hudson rivers with regularity. The Liberty Helicopter operated by FlyNYON went down after a mayday in the East River between Roosevelt Island and East 88th Street, not far from Gracie Mansion Sunday night shortly after 7 p.m.
The desperate and chilling mayday radio call is preserved and shared here courtesy of LiveATC.net.
A statement on the Liberty Helicopters website says: “We are focused on supporting the families affected by this tragic accident and are fully cooperating with the FAA and NTSB investigations. These agencies have asked us to respect the investigative process by referring all press inquiries to them for an any further comment.”
The New York Times reported Sunday night that rescue divers had to cut tightly-strapped in passengers out of safety harnesses; two died and three later at Bellevue.
NY1 reported a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman, who identified the helicopter as a Eurocopter AS350, said it crashed just north of Roosevelt Island and was “reportedly inverted in the water.” Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill said the chopper was doing a private charter for a photo shoot when it went down and submerged in the 50-foot deep river.
Eric Adams was in the air at the same time, shot photos and posted a timeline account on Twitter.
“I was in the air with @FlyNYON at the same time the #helicopter crashed into #NewYork East River.”
Adams was on a touring helicopter run by FlyNYON which had posted a stunning aerial image from the air around 4:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon. There was not a cloud in the sky.
Liberty Helicopters describes itself as “the largest and most experienced helicopter sightseeing and charter service in the Northeast.” A chartered private 20-minute flight for up to 5 passengers costs $1700.
Myriad helicopter tour businesses, including Liberty, operate at the 6 East River Piers helipad off South Street (FDR Drive) between Broad Street and Old Slip on the southern tip of Manhattan.