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Helicopter Crashes Into NYC’s East River; WJZ’s Chopper Pilot Speaks Out

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NEW YORK CITY (WJZ) — A helicopter spun out of control over New York City and crashed into the East River Tuesday. A tourist is dead and four more were barely rescued in time.

Denise Koch has more.

Emergency divers jumped into the murky waters of the East River, racing the survivors to safety. They were on board a helicopter that crashed Tuesday afternoon. Police say the pilot ran into trouble after takeoff.

“Apparently the pilot said he was having problems and tried to turn around and come back,” said Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

“It spun around a few times, it flipped over with its nose facing toward Queens, just flipped right over,” said a witness.

Rescuers had to battle a strong current as they pulled the pilot and three of the passengers to shore. Marine units and divers are trying to locate the chopper underwater.

Captain Mike Perry was in New York having Sky Eye Chopper 13 serviced when that helicopter went down.

“I had an opportunity last evening to speak with the pilot who told me he was going over to New York to pick up some friends and take them on a sightseeing trip,” Perry said. “We watched him take off and head over to the New York area. It was shortly thereafter when we got the really bad news that he had crashed into the East River. Everyone here seems to know this pilot…everyone was aghast. It was very sad news for us.”

Two choppers crashed in the East River within three days of each other back in 2005. Investigators ruled human error caused both crashes.

Investigators are looking into whether wind gusts played a role in the crash.

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