Wreckage, Bodies Pulled from the Hudson River

August 9, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Dive teams pulled wreckage and bodies out of the Hudson River Sunday after a mid-air collision Saturday between a sightseeing helicopter and a small plane. All nine people on the two aircraft were killed.The remains of the tour helicopter were pulled from the Hudson River Saturday, and divers also continued the grim task of recovering bodies from the water. It was treacherous work. "The river bottom is very murky, and it is hard for divers to see in front of them, they are trying to almost operate in the dark," said Hoboken Police Chief Anthony Romano.

From witness reports, it appears it was the Piper plane that ran into the Liberty Tour helicopter. "The safety board is going to be looking at the operations in this airspace; we do know it is very congested. We know there are a lot of different types of operations," said N.T.S.B. Spokesperson Debbie Hersman.

On the helicopter for what to be a 12-minute tour of the Big Apple, was the pilot and 5 tourists from Italy, a husband and wife and their 16 year old son. Also, a teenage boy and his father who was celebrating his wedding anniversary; his wife, who was afraid to fly, stayed on shore.

At the controls of the Piper was pilot and owner Steve Altman. On board, his brother Daniel, and Daniel's 15-year old son Doug whose friends remembered him on You-Tube.

Some now question where pilots, flying below 1,100 feet are on their own with no air traffic control, can truly stay safe by looking out for each other.

"You have an airplane that can't see down and a helicopter that can't see up and they're in the same airspace and that can be a real problem and clearly that is a factor in what happened yesterday," said pilot Justin Green.

There has been an average of 11 mid-air collisions every year. Those collisions have claimed more than 160 lives.

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