Pilot killed in helicopter crash into Carnegie Lake in South Brunswick identified

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, September 1, 2023
Pilot killed in NJ helicopter crash identified
The pilot killed in the helicopter crash in South Brunswick on Thursday has been identified as Josef Yitzhak, age 44, of Israel. Anthony Carlo has the latest.

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, New Jersey (WABC) -- The pilot killed in the helicopter crash in South Brunswick on Thursday has been identified as Josef Yitzhak, age 44, of Israel.

The one-seated, single-engine Robinson R22 helicopter crashed into a canal near Carnegie Lake around 3:45 p.m. near Old Lincoln Highway.

South Brunswick Police said the helicopter took off from Princeton Airport, which is located about three miles away from the crash site, and went down just four minutes later.

A captain from Kingston Firehouse saw the chopper flying erratically and notified dispatchers. Other witnesses, including Beverly Tereshko, also saw the chopper sputter and veer before it dropped beneath the tree line.

Tereshko was only about 75 yards away when she saw the helicopter spinning out of control. She was taking pictures of birds when she was instead compelled to photograph the trouble in the sky.

"It's not something you want to see in your lifetime," she said. "My heart goes out to that family. Pray for them."

First responders made it to the scene within five minutes despite some difficulty due to the heavily wooded location.

When they arrived, they found the helicopter upside down in the water. The FAA says the aircraft was completely crushed.

A responding officer and firefighter entered the water, about 3 feet high, and saw the shoulder of the pilot in the helicopter. The two men lifted the helicopter, pulled the pilot from underneath, and dragged him to the shoreline.

Officials say he suffered massive injuries and life-saving measures could not be performed.

Authorities worked with the Israeli Consulate and Israeli police overnight to notify his family. South Brunswick Chief Raymond Hayducka extended his deepest sympathy to the pilot's family.

Some three dozen emergency personnel responded.

Fortunately, no one on the ground was injured and none of the surrounding trees were damaged in the crash.

A fire department drone is now being used to aid in the NTSB investigation.

NTSB officials revealed on Friday that the helicopter went out of control first and then suffered a "catastrophic failure," not the other way around.

Investigators say they will spend up to four days gathering evidence where the chopper remains in about five feet of water.

"It's going to be collecting all of the non-volatile memory, not just electronic memory, but also the memory of individuals and witnesses," said Aaron McCarter of the NTSB.

Tereshko's photos are a key piece of visual evidence.


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