Pilot says passenger gear may have interfered with helicopter operation

A helicopter crashed into East River in New York City, crash caught on camera

Helicopter down in the East River, officials say

The pilot - who repeatedly radioed "May day!"

"East River - engine failure", he added. All of the victims were between 26 and 34 years old, according to the New York Police Department. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is investigating. In the video, Howard's brother-in-law is seen smiling and laughing, with three people sitting behind him as the helicopter appears to be taking off. Vance told authorities he believed the engine had failed.

A pilot can free themselves by pulling one lever inside the aircraft, however the passengers all had harnesses that tied them inside with more than a usual seat belt since the group was on a photography mission with the doors removed. He also interned with ABC News affiliate WFAA-TV where his father, Jerry, was the station's production manager. The pilot was able to escape the crash after the aircraft flipped upside down in the water killing several passengers, officials said. "It nearly looked very surreal, and next thing we know it's approaching the water slowly and then it just completely crashed".

The pilot of the Eurocopter AS350 was the sole survivor of Sunday evening's crash in the East River off Manhattan.

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Afterward, Nazarian said members of the Coast Guard arrived in an attempt to help the helicopter passengers. The consulate said her family is working with the New York City medical examiner to bring her body back to Argentina.

The skies over NY constantly buzz with helicopters carrying tourists, businesspeople, traffic reporters, medical teams and others.

Police and divers braved the 50-foot-deep river, which was about 40 degrees Fahrenheit and moving at a speed of 4 miles per hour on Sunday night. According to a press statement, the five passengers that died on Sunday night were a part of a privately chartered flight for a photography project.

Mr Hill's brother Brendan told the New York Post: "He was an incredible human being. It was just really horrifying".

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How can you be sure the helicopter you're riding on is safe? A bystander's video showed the helicopter land hard and then capsize in water about 50 feet (15 meters) deep.

The AP reported that one person was rescued by a tugboat on the scene. "They were the first boat on the scene".

Liberty Helicopters describes itself as "the largest and most experienced helicopter sightseeing and charter service in New York City". "It's important to differentiate that the flight yesterday (Sunday) was not operating as a traditional sight-seeing flight, so they had a different tether in place for their passengers", said John Del Giorno, Eyewitness News helicopter pilot.

"I don't think Liberty should be flying right now", he said. It went down shortly after 7 p.m. near East 86th Street as the pilot declared an emergency.

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Witness Celia Skvaril told the reporter she saw the man float all the way down the river on the raft but did not see anyone else emerge from the water.

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