NTSB to Investigate Deadly East River Helicopter Crash

NY 1 - March 13, 2018

by NY 1

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are in New York City to investigate a helicopter crash in the East River on Sunday that killed five passengers on-board.

The crash happened near 86th St. in Manhattan at 7:08 p.m., an official with the safety board said Monday.

The pilot, who sources identify as Richard Vance and was the lone survivor. An NTSB investigator said the pilot radioed with Air Traffic Control with an emergency due to engine failure.

Sources said the pilot told investigators that one of the passenger's bags may have accidentally hit the emergency fuel shut down.

The AS350 B2 helicopter was manufactured in 2013 and was registered to Meridian Consulting Corp of Kearney, New Jersey. It was powered by a single Safran turbo engine, officials said.

The pilot was released from the hospital late-Sunday night, sources told NY1. NTSB officials said Monday around 4:50 p.m. that they had not spoken to him yet.

He was able to free himself from his harness to escape the cold and deep water. The NYPD said the other five passengers could not and were tightly harnessed. First responders had to cut them out, officials said.

The NTSB said it intends to investigate if the helicopter's harnesses were functioning and if the passengers used them.

Six people were on the helicopter in total, two of whom were pronounced dead at the scene, and three of who died from their injuries at a local hospital, officials said.

The NTSB, which will be in the city for five to seven days for its investigation, is asking anyone who may have witnessed the crash or captured it on video or photos to contact them. People can email the agency at ieyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov