Wreckage now focus of deadly East River chopper crash probe

Wreckage now focus of deadly East River chopper crash probe

A Texas firefighter, an Argentine woman and a video journalist were among five passengers killed when a helicopter plunged into New York City's East River, after the pilot reported the engine had failed.

"Shortly before the crash, the pilot radioed ATC, air traffic control, declaring an emergency due to engine failure", Bella Dinh-Zarr, the NTSB board member leading the probe, told reporters near the site where the Eurocopter AS350 chartered by Liberty Helicopters of New Jersey was pulled from the water on Monday.

The cause of the crash is not yet known but the National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation.

However, all five passengers were unable to undo their harnesses as the helicopter was swept away while submerged in 50 feet of water down the river.

"One of the most hard parts of the rescue were that five people were tightly harnessed", Fire Department of New York Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.

A police source said Tuesday that the pilot began experiencing trouble with his aircraft about 11 minutes into the flight and considered landing the copter in Central Park, before deciding to land it in the water. The pilot was the lone survivor of the incident.

Sen. Charles Schumer called on the FAA to issue an emergency order to force Liberty to cease until their safety record and the circumstances of the crash are fully investigated.

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The company has been involved in at least two other crashes, according to news accounts. A total of nine people died on that August 8, 2009 crash, three on the private plane, and six in the helicopter.

A federal official, who wished to remain anonymous, told news agency AP the pilot, Richard Vance, 33, believed a luggage item belonging to one of the passengers had hit an emergency fuel shutoff switch.

"The helicopter reportedly is inverted in the water".

"It was a doors-off flight, with harnesses", Adams said in a post about the flight that crashed.

In a situation like the one faced by the passengers on the accident flight, "there was no way I could have extricated myself", he said.

Bystander John Magers told CNN he knew something was going to happen after he saw the aircraft flying so low, so he took out his phone and filmed it. "My thoughts are with those killed", Magers said. The harnesses went over their shoulders and between their legs, attached on the back with a metal ring attached to the floor. Not with the training they had. "You should have a harness with all of these devices that requires only a fist bump to detach", Tristani said. Liberty Helicopters offers both private charters and sightseeing tours popular with tourists.

Vallejos-Blanco was visiting NY from her native Argentina, according to the Consulate General Argentina in NY. The pilot was able to escape the crash after the aircraft flipped upside down in the water killing several passengers, officials said.

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