Five Dead in East River Helicopter Crash

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All five passengers aboard a helicopter charter died Sunday after the pilot, who managed to escape the sinking vessel, radioed a Mayday message indicating engine failure moments before the chopper fell into Manhattan's East River trapping those aboard.

Two of the passengers were pronounced dead after New York Police Department water rescue units managed to cut them from their harnesses.

Three others were rushed to area trauma centers, two to Bellevue Hospital, who were admitted with no pulse and the third to New York University's Langone Hospital. All victims were unconscious with no pulse when they arrived at each of the hospitals.


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Police sources report the pilot, whose name has not been released, sent a chilling Mayday distress radio message calling out Mayday . . .Mayday . . . Mayday . . . East River engine failure. Seconds before the crash.

New York Fire Department also assisted in the recovery efforts.

"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.

The pilot of the doomed aircraft managed to free himself and was picked up by a passing tugboat.

The passengers were part of tour operated by Fly Liberty Charter, a New Jersey based company, and thought to be on a photo shoot.

Twitter video's posted by New Yorker's who happened to see the crash indicate the craft was hovering over the water and "hit hard" and began to take on water with the blades still rotating, smashing against the water.


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The helicopter went down near Gracie Mansion, the mayoral residence on Manhattan's East side, located at E. 88th Street and East End Avenue.

This is the second helicopter accident experienced by Liberty Helicopter Tours over the past ten years. In 2009, the same model aircraft, an AS350, also crashed over the Hudson River killing nine.

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