Battling Swift Current, Divers Had to Cut Passengers from Helicopter Harnesses

Dallas Fire Rescue Officer Brian McDaniel

Dallas Fire Rescue Officer Brian McDaniel

A senior law enforcement official told CNN that Vance believed one of the passengers' bags may have accidentally struck the chopper's emergency fuel shutoff button, which could have led to the crash, something that was not confirmed nor addressed by Dinh-Zarr.

Nigro and Police Commissioner James O'Neill said the rescue operation Sunday took place in a 4 miles per hour current in water about 50 feet (15 meters) deep, under challenging conditions.

A man on Twitter who identifies himself as a photographer, Eric Adams, said that he took a helicopter flight at the same time as the one that crashed. "The other five did not", said Robert A. Nigro, commissioner of the Fire Department of NY. The National Transportation Safety Board sent a 14-person team to investigate.

Cuenca del Plata University in Argentina said she studied art, design and communications. At a news conference, Nigro announced that the pilot is "okay".

The red Eurocopter AS350, which officials said was operated by Liberty Helicopters and had been privately chartered for a photo shoot, apparently had engine failure.

No-one answered an email Monday to Vance, a 33-year-old licensed commercial pilot for seven years who's also licensed as a flight instructor. Reviews of the business online have, by and large, been positive, but following the tragic death of five passengers that likely survived the crash, only to perish due to their restraints, some have raised questions about the business's safety record. The harnesses are created to be more secure than a traditional aircraft seatbelt, but in the case of this emergency, may have contributed to all five passengers deaths.

"It was a doors-off flight, with harnesses", he wrote on Twitter. "It was a landing in the water, and I didn't see the floats inside".

Trevor Cadigan
Trevor Cadigan

"It's a big handle so you can grab it easily in an emergency", he said.

Radio watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector New York command center received initial notification shortly after 7 p.m. of the incident. "You can lean out as far as you want and you're not going to fall out of the helicopter". McDaniel flashed a thumbs up.

"He's a true f--ing pilot, so just let him be", he said.

Liberty, a tour and charter helicopter company, has been involved in at least five accidents or other incidents in the last 10 years, according to FAA data.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer of NY is expected to call for the FAA to suspend Liberty Helicopters' FAA operating certificate until their safety record and this crash are fully assessed, according to a press release from his office.

The helicopter is hoisted from the East River onto a barge the day after it crashed, killing all five passengers. All 155 people on board survived the episode, which was depicted in the 2016 movie "Sully", starring Tom Hanks.

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