All 5 passengers killed in East River helicopter crash; pilot survives

UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan -- Police say two people are dead after a helicopter crashed into the East River on Sunday night.


The helicopter reportedly crashed near 89th Street in Manhattan around 7 p.m. It is unclear where the helicopter was coming from or if there were any distress calls.

The pilot was able to free himself, but the passengers were not able to get out - he was taken to the hospital, and is expected to be okay.

It took FDNY and NYPD divers a while to free the passengers from the helicopter, which was upside-down. The passengers were tightly harnessed, so responders had to get them freed.

The aircraft was operated by Liberty Helicopters for a private charger photoshoot.

"We were having dinner and we noticed a red helicopter going full speed towards the water. It almost looked very surreal and next thing we know it's approaching the water slowly and then it just completely crashed and then sunk. Immediate reaction was to call 911," said eyewitness Arineh Nazarian.

The helicopter is now in police possession.

The NTSB says they will be investigating. NYC Ferry service on the Astoria and East River route is currently suspended until further notice.
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