Fatal helicopter crash is 3rd involving 'Liberty Helicopters' company in past 11 years

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Monday, March 12, 2018
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Joe Torres has the latest on the investigation into the helicopter crash.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Sunday's fatal helicopter crash in the East River is the third crash involving a Liberty Helicopters chopper in the past 11 years.

Onlookers noticed the helicopter apparently experiencing some kind of trouble and began recording the incident on their cell phones. Video captured the moment the helicopter made contact with the water, and witnesses described the harrowing scene.

"It was coming down quickly, quicker that most helicopters I've seen, and then it hit the water," one witness said.

The pilot who survived the deadly helicopter crash reportedly told investigators he believed a passenger's bag might have hit an emergency fuel shutoff switch in the moments before the chopper went down. The National Transportation Safety Board is also looking closely at why an emergency flotation device on the helicopter apparently did not deploy properly. The floats are supposed allow a helicopter to stay upright, rather than overturning and submerging.

"The helicopter came, it like landed slowly, but then the next thing you know it just flipped and then we heard someone crying for help," a woman said.

Related: Who are the victims in the East River helicopter crash?

The aircraft was operated by Fly Liberty Charter for a private photoshoot where passengers take pictures with the doors of the helicopter open. It took off from HHI Heliport in Kearny, New Jersey.

In August 2009, nine people were killed after a sightseeing helicopter carrying Italian tourists collided mid-air with a small, private plane over the Hudson River. Investigators determined the chopper was flying too high.

Related: Flight radar map shows exact path helicopter took over East River

In July 2007, a Liberty Sightseeing chopper carrying eight people dropped into the Hudson River. An off-duty paramedic on board helped everyone escape.

As a result, Senator Charles Schumer is calling for the FAA to revoke the company's operating certificate. He says Liberty Helicopters should be grounded until the investigation is complete.


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