NEW YORK (March 13, 2018) – A helicopter carrying 5 passengers crashed landed in the East River of New York Sunday evening and killed 5 people, with the pilot as the only survivor.
The fatal incident happened around 7 p.m. The passengers in the Liberty Helicopter aircraft were bound for a private photo shoot when the helicopter crashed in the East River. Initial reports state that one of the passenger’s bags may have accidentally hit the emergency fuel shutoff button that caused the engine failure, inducing the deadly crash that killed the five passengers. The blades of the helicopter hit the river and the chopper flipped over into the icy 39-degree waters. The chopper remained inverted in the water until rescue officials arrived on the scene.
The multi-point harness that is supposed to hold passengers firmly in their seat comes over the shoulders and sometimes over the thighs. The harness tethered the passengers to the dead weight as the chopper sank into the East River. Passengers foreign to flying might not be familiar with knowing how to release the intricate harness. The Pilot was able to successfully free himself from the harness and was the only survivor.
However, the ill-fated flight may have another disaster. It was equipped with floats used for emergency water landings. The pilot says the right float failed to inflate. It is unclear whether the 5 passengers would have survived the crash if the floaters of the chopper were functioning properly. It is unknown at the time why the inflatable pontoons, meant to keep the chopper upright when it landed, somehow failed. It is unknown whether there was a designated storage area for personal belongings and handbags in the compact chopper. It is unclear whether the emergency fuel shutoff button had a safety lock on it. It also is unclear whether a demonstration was given, in case of an emergency, showing the passengers how to free themselves from the harness.
Liberty helicopters has a history of 2 deadly incidents. The crash that happened in 2009 tragically killed 9 of its passengers. The helicopter in 2007 had a rotor blade separation midflight and crashed into the Hudson River. The accident that occurred Sunday evening currently remains under open investigation to determine cause and liability, and Lexton Law is still receiving updates at this time.
“Sadly, there are no words that can comfort all family members and friends affected by this tragic accident,” said the attorneys from Lexton Law. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those involved.”