1 Dead, 4 Rescued in East River Helicopter Crash
Tuesday, October 04, 2011 - 03:36 PM
A woman died and four others were injured when a helicopter crashed into the East River shortly after takeoff near 34th Street on Tuesday afternoon, police said.
The pilot and three others — foreign tourists — were rescued from the river when a private Bell 206 helicopter from Linden, N.J., went down shortly after take-off. The woman who died was trapped in the helicopter.
"All New Yorkers feel for this family," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, speaking from near the site of the crash.
The pilot, Paul Dudley and three passengers were bobbing in the water while the 40-year-old victim was trapped inside as the chopper sank.
The passengers were friends of the pilot's family: a husband and wife who were British and living in Portugal; the wife's daughter, also British, who died at the scene; and the daughter's Australian friend. The daughter and friend were living in Australia.
The pilot's wife, Sunhe Dudley, told The Associated Press that she had spoken to her husband briefly after the crash.
"I think that he's OK," she said. "These were actually very dear friends of ours that were in the helicopter."
Recovery workers raised the helicopter wreckage from the East River early this evening. Outwardly the chopper appeared intact, as a crane lowered the helicopter onto a recovery boat.
Larry Serras, with the NYPD Emergency Service Unit said when he arrived on the scene the chopper was barely visible. He and three of his men jumped into the river and swan out to the helicopter. "We found the pilot and two victims floating on top of the water," he said. He added the pilot indicated that someone was trapped inside the helicopter, but "at that point it was submerged and we had no way to get to it."
On Aug. 8, 2009 a small plane collided with a helicopter over the East River, killing nine people, including five Italian tourists.
The Federal Aviation Administration changed its rules for aircraft flying over New York City's rivers after that collision. Pilots must call out their positions on the radio and obey a 161 mph speed limit. Before the changes, such radio calls were optional.
With the Associated Press
(Photos: Rescue workers near the site of a helicopter crash on October 4, 2011. Kathleen Horan/WNYC)
(NYPD Lt. Larry Serras at the podium.)
(Photo above is courtesy of the NYPD)