Helicopter Crashes In River, 5 Passengers Dead

- Mar 13, 2018 -

 A private charter helicopter hired for a photo shoot crashed into New York City's East River on Sunday night and flipped upside down in the water, killing all five passengers aboard, officials said.

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The pilot freed himself and was rescued by a tugboat, officials said, while police and fire department divers who recovered the passengers had to remove them from tight harnesses while they were upside down.

"It took awhile for the divers to get these people out. They worked very quickly as fast as they could," Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. "It was a great tragedy that we had here."


Witnesses on a waterfront esplanade near where the aircraft went down said the helicopter was flying noisily, then suddenly dropped into the water and quickly submerged. But the pilot appeared on the surface, holding onto a flotation device as a tugboat and then police boats approached.

"It's cold water. It was sinking really fast," Mary Lee, 66, told the New York Post. "By the time we got out here, we couldn't see it. It was underwater."

Celia Skyvaril, 23, told the Daily News that she could see a person on what looked like a yellow raft or float screaming and yelling for help.

News footage showed one victim being loaded into an ambulance while emergency workers gave him chest compressions.

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