Eerie images capture final moments of doomed New York chopper before river crash

A photographer captured these eerie images of a helicopter and its passengers moments before it crashed into a New York river killing at least two people.

A party of five people were on a private chartered "photoshoot" flight when the chopper came down in the East River on Sunday night.

Dramatic footage showed it plunging into the water before tilting to the side and quickly submerging as the propeller blades continued to thrash.

The pilot was able to free himself and was rescued unharmed by a nearby tugboat.

But his five passengers were unable to free themselves from harnesses which kept them strapped in.

Police divers raced to the scene but tragically two people were declared dead at the scene.


Three others remain in a critical condition.

Photographer and journalist Eric Adams was on a similar flight taking off from the same helipad at around the same time.

He shared pictures he took of the chopper and the occupants moments before the crash online.

"This helicopter didn’t return when we did, and its occupant’s possessions were still in the locker," Eric tweeted.

"I was with those folks in the safety briefing and during boarding.

"It was a doors-off flight, with harnesses.

"They would have been difficult to remove in an emergency, since you’re attached from the rear.

"They provide knives to slice harnesses but didn’t physically point out where they were once we had them on. We had floatation (sic) devices too."

According to an audio clip posted online, the pilot declared a mayday due to "engine failure".



"It kind of hit sideways and just flipped over," Brianna Jesme, 22, an Upper East Side resident who witnessed the crash, said.

Mr Magers tweeted a 13-second clip saying: "just witnessed a helicopter crash into the East River .. hope everyone’s ok. Caught it all on tape!"

The chopper’s red and green tail light were illuminated as it landed in the water and quickly submerged.

The pilot was rescued by a private tugboat that was first to the scene.


Fire crews and police boats responded in minutes but the stricken chopper was dragged all the way down towards 34th street within hours.

Police divers jumped into the water to lead the rescue effort as another helicopter hovered overhead.

A Reuters photographer witnessed three people recovered by rescue divers being wheeled on stretchers onto a midtown pier shortly before 9 pm.

New York Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said: "It’s a great tragedy.

"It took a while for the divers to get these people out."

Mr Nigro said when the divers reached the helicopter it was inverted and in 50 feet of water with below 40-degree Fahrenheit water temperatures and four-mile-an hour currents.

The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed the Eurocopter AS350 had crashed in the East River and authorities are investigating.

"The helicopter reportedly is inverted in the water," the FAA said.

"Local authorities will confirm the number of people on board, their names and conditions.

"The FAA is investigating."

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