Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Butler Grad Among Five Killed In Sunday's NYC Helicopter Crash

Butler Grad Among Five Killed In Sunday's NYC Helicopter Crash

The red helicopter crashed into the river near Roosevelt Island, between Manhattan and Queens, at about 7 p.m., police said.

A video posted to Twitter showed the helicopter crashing down in the water, tipping over on its side as the rotors hit the water. The pilot was able to escape the Sunday night crash after the aircraft flipped upside down in the water killing several passengers, officials said. Argentina's NY consulate said Carla Vallejos Blanco was one of the victims.

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the rescue was hampered by the fact that the passengers were tightly harnessed.

Three of them were taken to area hospitals in critical condition, while the other two were pronounced dead at the scene, he said.

It is with deep sadness that the Young New Yorkers' Chorus (YNYC) confirms the death of their Board President and chorus. There's no Plexiglass divider with the pilot - and they give every passenger a knife!

The National Transportation Safety Board will determine probable cause of the incident, the FAA said. Providing sightseeing trips since 1990, the company advertises "unparalleled safety records". Prior to his job with Fly Liberty Charters, Vance worked at the Northeast Helicopters in Ellington as a flight instructor from 2012 to 2016.

The pilot, who was the only survivor, is identified as 33-year-old Richard Vance of Danbury, Connecticut, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

'One of the most hard parts of the operation, we're told, was the five people, besides the pilot, were all tightly harnessed, ' said Commissioner Nigro.

Nigro said the harnesses created to be worn for safety may have actually hindered the passengers' escape. "It was a great tragedy that we had here".

Witnesses on a nearby waterfront esplanade said the helicopter was flying noisily, then suddenly dropped and quickly submerged. "Then we saw one guy climb onto the raft and he was yelling for help".

Another bystander, Susan Larkin, told the Associated Press she went down to see rescue boats in the river and a police helicopter circling overhead, hovering low over the water.

The moment of impact was captured on video and posted to social, as was the aftermath.

An Argentine woman, Carla Vallejos Blanco, was also one of the victims.

The chopper is being described by multiple reports as a "tour helicopter" and there's said to be an unknown number of passengers aboard. "They were super excited about it". "Just figuring out what to expect".

The five passengers were all still harnessed in when their bodies were recovered.

She expects that the NTSB would be on site for five to seven days, investigating air traffic control, operations, airworthiness, survival factors, power plants and weather with Todd Gunther, a senior aviation investigator with 30 years of experience, at the helm.

"Zero Lima Hotel, mayday, mayday, mayday", he said.

The helicopter went down near Gracie Mansion, the mayoral residence. "My thoughts are with those killed".

"Daniel was a wonderful young man".

A phone message left with the company was not immediately returned.

"It was a doors-off flight, with harnesses", Adams said in a post about the flight that crashed. On their back, between their shoulder blades, was a metal ring attached to a carabiner and tethered to the floor. "When you're anchored at your shoulder blade, you can't reach that". The water temperature was juts 39 degrees at the time of the crash.

As the aircraft foundered, he made a mayday call and added: "East River - engine failure".

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