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All Five Passengers Are Dead After A Helicopter Crashed In The East River

Warning: This post contains footage of a helicopter crash.

Originally posted on
Updated on

All five passengers have been killed after a helicopter crashed into New York City's East River Sunday evening, briefly floundering and spinning before submerging into the water. The pilot managed to free himself and survived.

@cnn @FoxNews just witnessed a helicopter crash into the East River .. hope everyone’s ok. Caught it all on tape!

The private charter helicopter was being used for a photo shoot when it went down near East 96th Street and the FDR Drive around 7:15 p.m., New York Fire Department officials told reporters Sunday.

The full briefing from @NYPDONeill and @FDNY’s Commissioner Nigro on the helicopter crash in New York’s East River earlier tonight https://t.co/CEyZdRW2LF

Three of the passengers were rescued alive, but in critical condition and were taken to a nearby hospital. Two people died on scene, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.

"It took a while for the divers to get these people out, but they worked very quickly, as they could," the commissioner said. "That's 50 feet of water with a 4-mile-per-hour current and temperatures below 40."

Monday, New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill released the names of the victims. They were Daniel Thompson, 34, Tristian Hill, 29, Trevor Cadigan, 26, Brian McDaniel, 26, and Carla Vallejos Bianco, 29.

"It's a great tragedy we had occur here on an otherwise quiet Sunday evening," he said.

This video, posted to Instagram Sunday by Trevor Cadigan, shows the victims in the helicopter giving thumbs-up signs just prior to takeoff. (WARNING: some people might find this video distressing.)

video-player.buzzfeed.com

"Our thoughts and hope for safe recovery are with those who were aboard. We are thankful for our first responders at the scene," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

People documented the ensuing rescue from the sidewalks and their windows as boats, choppers, and divers swarmed the scene.

Some unexpected scene to see when you have a east river view in your room. 20 min ago, my wife and I were chilling in our room enjoying the river view. Then we saw a flying object gradually landing on water. We thought it’s a helicopter, but we were not sure. So we called 911. https://t.co/0NjI5jo5c8

"Now many boats and helicopters surrounded the area," one person wrote.

Now many boats and helicopters surrounded the area, and I hope whoever was on that object survived the crash and cold river. https://t.co/nap0udtfBA

New York City Fire Department members were also assisting in rescue efforts.

FDNY members are on scene with @nypdnews for a confirmed helicopter in the East River, 8611 E 91 St. Manhattan

Overheard diver had found helicopter from FDNY. 79 and FDR.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which is investigating the crash, said the Eurocopter AS350 crashed near the northern end of Roosevelt Island at about 7 p.m. and was reportedly upside-down in the water. The National Transportation and Safety Board will determine the cause, the FAA said.

The Associated Press reported that the pilot told investigators a passenger's bag might have hit an emergency fuel shutoff switch before the chopper went down.

NTSB officials told reporters Monday afternoon they had not yet interviewed the pilot. In addition to determining whether the helicopter's flotation devices inflated properly, investigators will look into the harness system and the aircraft's maintenance history.

"Our only purpose here is to ensure that this type of accident doesn't happen again," NTSB member Bella Dinh-Zarr said during a press conference.

Brianna Sacks is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Brianna Sacks at brianna.sacks@buzzfeed.com.

Patrick Smith is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Patrick Smith at patrick.smith@buzzfeed.com.

Cora Lewis is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Cora Lewis at cora.lewis@buzzfeed.com.

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