See Doomed Helicopter Take Flight Moments Before Crashing in NYC River

The pilot was the only survivor of the crash

The pilot was the only survivor of the crash

A bystander, Susan Larkin, told The Associated Press that she went down to see rescue boats in the river and a police helicopter circling overhead, hovering low over the water.

Two of the five passengers killed in Sunday's helicopter crash in New York City's East River are high school friends who were sightseeing in the Big Apple.

The charter service, Liberty Helicopters, has been involved in two other high-profile crashes in NY. All 5 of the victims were between 26 and 34 years old.

The single-engine Eurocopter AS350 plunged into the river Sunday evening moments after the pilot issued a distress call.

They could not dive in with the tugboat's propellers still whirring, so the tugboat shut down its motor and, with the helicopter attached and the divers going under, began floating south.

The pilot was rescued by a tugboat, but emergency divers had to remove the passengers from tight safety harnesses while they were upside down, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. "People had to be cut out".

The pilot freed himself and was rescued and later was treated and released in good condition from a hospital, police said.

"Mayday, mayday, mayday", the pilot told air traffic controllers as it was going down, according to a recording of the radio call.

NTSB member Bella Dinh-Zarr said the agency hasn't spoken yet to the pilot but hopes to do so.

Argentina's NY consulate said Monday that Carla Vallejos Blanco was one of the victims in the crash Sunday night.

New York's U.S. Sen. She says anyone who ever met Hill is better for it. "He loved his family and friends and this city".

Cadigan was the son of Jerry Cadigan, the production manager for WFAA in Dallas, and had interned at WFAA previously.

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"We were devastated to hear about the death of Trevor Cadigan".

CBS2 asked Liberty Helicopters where the tool was located, but they didn't respond.

The company has been involved in at least two other crashes, according to news accounts.

The copter's six emergency floats did inflate, but Dinh-Zarr said investigators would look at whether there were any problems with the devices.

Two years earlier, another of its helicopters crashed in the Hudson River, though all of the people aboard survived. An off-duty paramedic on board helped everyone escape. The 2009 crash was the only incident with fatalities.

The pilot of the Liberty Helicopters" flight has been taken to hospital "for observation'. "We will not be determining probable cause or speculate what may have caused this accident".

A video shared on Twitter showed the helicopter go down just after 7 p.m and capsize.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

Helicopter owner Liberty Helicopters is referring all inquiries to investigators.

@cnn @FoxNews just witnessed a helicopter crash into the East River. hope everyone's ok.

"I saw it coming down toward the water". "My thoughts are with those killed".

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