James Devaney/Getty Images

The pilot was able to escape moments after the crash.

Talia Avakian
March 12, 2018

Five people have been killed after a tour helicopter carrying six people crashed into New York City’s East River on Sunday.

The aircraft, identified by FAA officials as a Eurocopter AS350, crashed into the East River near Roosevelt Island at 7 p.m. on Sunday, inverting into the water. 

The helicopter crash passengers have been identified by New York Police Department officials as 34-year-old Daniel Thompson of New York, 29-year-old Tristan Hill of New York, 26-year-old Trevor Cadigan of Dallas, 26-year-old Brian McDaniel of Dallas, and 29-year-old Carla Vallejos Blanco of Argentina.

One of the victims, Cadigan, posted a video moments before the incident occurred.

In audio of the incident obtained by LiveATC.net, the pilot of the aircraft can be heard requesting to issue a mayday from the LaGuardia Air Traffic Control due to an engine failure moments before the helicopter went down into the East River, just north of Roosevelt Island.

According to FDNY officials, the helicopter landed and then flipped over in the water. The pilot was able to escape moments after the crash. The five passengers, who were strapped in, were trapped inside.

Footage posted of the crash on social media shows the red helicopter barreling into the water around sunset. 

The Coast Guard and a private tugboat were on the scene and assisted in the initial rescue, with firefighters and divers later called in to attempt to rescue the remaining passengers submerged in the water. 

Two of the passengers were pronounced dead on the scene while three were taken to local area hospitals in critical condition but did not survive, FDNY officials said.

Footage posted of the crash on social media shows the red helicopter barreling into the water around sunset. 

The pilot, who was the sole survivor of the crash, was identified as Richard Vance, 33, and was released overnight, according to ABC

The passengers were on a sightseeing photo shoot tour of New York City on the helicopter, which was operated by Liberty Helicopter Tours. The flight took off from Kearney, New Jersey. 

Federal Aviation Administration officials were able to confirm that the helicopter was a Eurocopter AS350 that went down at 7 p.m. Sunday, with the National Transportation Safety Board now conducting an investigation on what caused the crash.

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