Pilot in Deadly New York City Helicopter Crash Made Frantic Mayday Call

March 12, 2018 Updated: March 12, 2018    

The pilot of a helicopter in New York City was the only survivor of the crash over the weekend.

Richard Vance, 33, escaped as his Eurocopter AS350 went down near 88th Street with five passengers inside.

Everyone died except for Vance.

Vance told investigators later that the crash was caused by engine failure.

Vance has been flying with Liberty Helicopter, a New Jersey-based company, for a couple of years, his father told the New York Post.

“He’s a very good pilot,” the elder Vance said, adding that his son has flown for “a lot of years” with a commercial pilot’s license.

Richard Vance’s LinkedIn page says that he worked for Liberty starting in April 2016.

From July 2012 to March 2016, his job was listed as assistant chief flight instructor for Northeast Helicopters, which describes itself as one of the most reputable helicopter schools in the country.

After the helicopter started going down, Vance sent out a distress call.

“Mayday … Mayday … Mayday!” Vance said, according to the Post. “East River engine failure!”

Vance said that a passenger’s bags “may have inadvertently hit the emergency fuel shutoff button,” an unnamed official told CNN.

The helicopter floated in the East River water for several minutes before sinking and killing everyone on board. It’s unclear if Vance attempted to save any of the passengers.

Officials later used a crane to pull the chopper out of the water.

“One of the most difficult parts of the rescue were that five people were tightly harnessed,” Fire Department of New York Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. “People had to be cut out.”

Liberty Helicopters posted a statement on its website, saying it is “focused on supporting the families affected by this tragic accident and on fully cooperating with the FAA and NTSB investigations.”

The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that it’s involved in the investigation, as did the National Transportation Safety Board.

WABC reported that the crash was the third involving a Liberty Helicopters chopper in the past 11 years.

The last crash took place in August 2009, when a sightseeing helicopter carrying nine people slammed into a small plane over the Hudson River.

Investigators later determined that the helicopter was flying too high. All nine people were killed.

The other crash took place in July 2007, when a Liberty Sightseeing helicopter carrying eight people dropped into the Hudson River. Everyone survived the incident.

From NTD.tv

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