Helicopter tragedy on the East River

Police and rescue boats search the murky East River yesterday at the spot where the chopper went down.

What was intended as a sightseeing tour above the Manhattan skyline ended in tragedy yesterday when a woman died after the private tourist helicopter she was riding in crashed into the East River.

The helicopter, which was carrying five people, had just taken off from the 34th Street Heliport when, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “Apparently the pilot said he was having trouble and turned back around.”

Instead of landing again, the Bell 206-Jet Ranger crashed and sunk into the choppy river.
The pilot, Paul Dudley, is reportedly the director of Linden Municipal Airport in New Jersey, Bloomberg said.

“Apparently the pilot knew the passengers and came over to pick them up,” he said.

The pilot and three other survivors were pulled out of the river after either swimming on their own or clutching the upside-down helicopter’s landing gear as it slowly sunk.

The last passenger to be found was reportedly a 40-year-old woman from Sydney, Australia. She was pulled from the water just before 5 p.m. and pronounced dead by the FDNY.

Bloomberg said two of the passengers were British and lived in Portugal, and the other two lived in Australia.

“New Yorkers feel for this family, and we wish it had not happened,” he said. “It’s a sad day.”

One survivor remained in very serious condition last night. According to reports, Dudley made an emergency landing in 2006 when his Cessna engine quit near Gravesend Bay. He landed in a field, and there were no injuries.


Eyewitness to tragedy

Kips Bay teacher Robert Dress brought his 9-month-old son to watch the
helicopters take off and land at the 34th Street Heliport yesterday
afternoon.

But instead of a fun-filled outing, the two ended up having front-row seats to a nightmare.

The helicopter went down so fast he didn’t realize what he was seeing, Dress recalls.

“I was watching it go down. It didn’t go down slowly.  It wasn’t a
graceful thing — it was very violent,” he said. “It didn’t break apart.
It went around in circles and went straight down.”

Dress called 911 immediately after seeing the crash. He then watched a man in a wet suit leap into the water to pull out a woman.

“He’s the real hero today,” he said.  -Emily Anne Epstein/Metro

Past crashes
This isn’t the first time a helicopter has gone down in Manhattan: 28 choppers have crashed in the last three decades. Two years ago, a tourist helicopter crashed into a small plane above the Hudson, killing five Italian tourists, two pilots and two others. And in 1990, a helicopter crashed into a 14-story building, killing the pilot. In 2005, two helicopters crashed three days apart in Manhattan waters, one carrying six business executives and one carrying six tourists.

Call for tighter rules

Rep. Carolyn Maloney called yesterday for an investigation into the bustling air traffic above Manhattan. “Federal transportation officials should investigate not only the causes of this crash, but also whether it is safe to have such a high volume of helicopter traffic over our city,” she said



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Second Shift: Using her time off to help…

New Yorker Vanessa Bracetty started a non-profit that helps homeless women and children with her sisters.

Local

Mayor reveals new tech hub Digital.NYC

Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed Digital.NYC on Wednesday, a new online platform aimed at connecting all things tech in New York City. The public-private partnership…

Local

Falling debris hits two men in Times Square

Two men were taken to the hospital Wednesday morning after being hit by falling debris from 110 feet above Times Square. Nancy Greco from the…

Local

Queens Assemblyman William Scarborough accused of misusing campaign…

Queens Assemblyman William Scarborough has been indicted on state and federal charges for allegedly withdrawing campaign funds as cash for personal use. Scarborough, a Democrat…

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, Oct. 1: 'Criminal Minds,'…

The "Criminal Minds" team adds some supernatural assistance, as the "Ghost Whisperer" herself, Jennifer Love Hewitt, joins the show. She's playing an FBI agent, but you never know when someone…

Music

See the most popular Pandora station in your…

Who knew Bachata music was so popular?

The Word

The Word: Twilight just won't die

You thought our "Twilight" days were behind us, didn't you? Well think again. Series creator Stephenie Meyer (who would rather you not ask about "Twilight"…

Going Out

Which NYC restaurant lost its three-star Michelin rating?

A record 73 restaurants in New York City collected coveted Michelin stars on Tuesday as a mix of trendy spots and fine-dining stalwarts underscored the…

NFL

Rex Ryan fields more questions about Geno Smith,…

The idea Geno Smith will be replaced by backup Michael Vick appears to be all smoke, as the Jets are intent to ride with their second-round draft pick.

NFL

Will Beatty playing like franchise left tackle again…

Left tackle Will Beatty, who is the elder-statesman of Giants’ line, has turned around his season and become a consistent force on Manning’s blindside.

NFL

John Conner back with Jets for second stint

He'll be back. It's "Terminator 2" for the Jets, who brought back John Conner to the team on Tuesday after placing fullback Tommy Bohanon on…

NFL

Fantasy football: Ben Tate to break out, Larry…

Fantasy football: Ben Tate to break out, Larry Donnell will stay solid

Career

Creating a support system for minority women in…

When Kathryn Finney founded digitalundivided — an organization devoted to engaging minority communities with the tech world — she didn’t know quite what to expect.…

Sex

We can learn a lot from animals about…

There’s a lot we can learn about love from the birds and the bees — and the chickens, monkeys and squirrels that we share the…

Style

Saint Laurent

Our review of the Saint Laurent Spring '15 show at Paris Fashion Week.

Style

Céline: Paris Fashion Week Spring 2015

Our review of the Celine Spring '15 show during Paris Fashion Week.