Helicopter Chartered For Photography Shoot Crashes In New York City

A helicopter believed to be carrying several people crashed in New York City's East River on Sunday night and rescues were under way according to multiple reports

The five passengers killed when a helicopter plunged into New York City's East River were identified on Monday, as the pilot said the engine had failed.

The passengers who died included Dallas Fire-Rescue Officer Brian McDaniel, 26, his high school friend Trevor Cadigan, 26, a journalist who hailed from Dallas but had recently moved to NY; and Carla Vallejos Blanco, 29, a tourist from Argentina, according to its consulate.

Brian McDaniel, a firefighter with the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department, was on vacation in the Big Apple when he boarded the private charter for a photo shoot, according to the Texas fire station and the New York Police Department. The New York Police Department identified the pilot as Richard Vance, 33, but declined to release the victims' identities until their families were notified.

It is owned by Liberty Helicopters, based in New Jersey, a company that advertises itself on its website as the "largest and most experienced helicopter sightseeing and charter service in the Northeast".

Eric Adams, an aviation writer who was riding in a different helicopter, told The Washington Post the harnesses strapping passengers in were attached in a way that would not allow them to get free on their own.

The pilot was experiencing engine failure just before he lost control, sources said.

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Divers in fast-moving, frigid waters had to cut the people loose 50 feet below the surface in order to remove them, New York Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.

The helicopter is hoisted from the East River onto a barge the day after it crashed, killing all five passengers. McDaniel flashed a thumbs up. "They died because they drowned, whether they were trapped and couldn't get their harnesses undone". Strapped tightly inside the open-doored craft, they were unable to escape their harnesses when it filled with water.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was briefed about the crash. "Sully" Sullenberger glided his US Airways Charlotte-bound plane to safety in the icy waters of the Hudson River, expertly evacuating passengers and crew members. He said the pilot had initially thought that the passengers survived.

The National Transportation Safety Board dispatched investigators on Monday.

A crash in October 2011 in the East River killed a British woman visiting the city for her 40th birthday.

"It was sinking really fast", witness Mary Lee, 66, told the New York Post. No one was injured in the crash.

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.