5 passengers died while the pilot survived after a helicopter went down in the East River near Manhattan, New York on Sunday evening.
The helicopter pilot who managed to escape Sunday’s plunge into New York City’s East River made a chilling and frantic distress call before the crash, which left all five of his passengers dead.
“Mayday . . . Mayday . . . Mayday . . . East River engine failure,” the pilot called out over his radio seconds before going down.
The pilot, whose name has not been released, managed to survive by climbing onto a raft, but the passengers, who were part of a tour operated by New Jersey-based Fly Liberty Charter, all died. Police said the pilot freed himself and was rescued by a passing tugboat.
Authorities were quickly on the scene after the helicopter went down. The passengers were recovered shortly after the 7:06 p.m. crash by police and fire department divers, who had to remove them from tight harnesses while they were upside down, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.
“It took awhile for the drivers to get these people out. They worked very quickly as fast as they could,” Nigro said. “It was a great tragedy that we had here.”
Two of the passengers were declared dead at the scene while three of the passengers had been listed in critical condition after being rushed to nearby hospitals. Two of the critical victims were sent to New York’s Bellevue Hospital with no heartbeat and were not expected to survive, a source told Fox News. The third critical victim was rushed to NYU Langone Hospital.
Officials said the group was flying as part of a Liberty Helicopters tour. They were on the private Eurocopter AS350 for a photo shoot when it crashed around 7 p.m.
Video posted on Twitter shows as a red helicopter landed in the water and then flip on its side before it sank. One witness told the New York Post she watched the crash unfold from her apartment window and “immediately thought someone was in there and not going to live.”
“By the time we got out here, we couldn’t see [the helicopter],” Mary Lee told the Post. “It was under water.”
Another witness, Arineh Nazarian, described seeing the helicopter crash while she and others were eating dinner.
“We noticed a red helicopter going full speed towards the water,” Nazarian told WABC. “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.”
Watch videos below.
— jennbisramtv (@jennbisramtv) 11 March 2018
— JJ Magers (@JJmagers) 11 March 2018
Witnesses say one person aboard helicopter that went down near Roosevelt Island, climbed out of the helicopter and used a raft to get to safety pic.twitter.com/vvAJeHLFAR
— Myles Miller (@MylesMill) 11 March 2018