Passengers smile moments before NY helicopter crash that killed five

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Officials said the private charter helicopter, which was on a photoshoot, flipped upside down and submerged in the water, which was about 50 feet deep.

The flight took off from Kearney, New Jersey.

Jennifer Platz, The Associated Press •.

The pilot said one of the passenger's bags may have inadvertently hit the emergency fuel shutoff button, leading to the crash that killed five passengers, a senior law enforcement official said.

The cause of the accident was not immediately clear, but local media indicated the pilot had sent a distress signal that mentioned an engine problem shortly before the crash. The pilot of the helicopter was able to free himself and was the only survivor. The FAA reports he is a certified helicopter pilot and instructor.

Firefighter Brian McDaniel and video journalist Trevor Cadigan, both of Dallas, Argentinian tourist Carla Vallejos Blanco and helicopter employees Tristan Hill and Daniel Thompson were killed in the crash.

"Despite his short tenure, hearts are heavy with grief as we not only try to come to grips with his loss departmentally but to also be there in every way that we can for his family", the department said in a statement.

A 2016 graduate of Southern Methodist University, Cadigan had previously freelanced with an entertainment and culture site managed by the Dallas Morning News and interned with his hometown's WFAA-TV. His father, Jerry, is the station's production manager.

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The charter helicopter was hired for a photo shoot.

The Eurocopter AS350 helicopter went down about 7 the water near New York's mayoral residence.

"Mayday, mayday, mayday", he said in an emergency radio call as the aircraft foundered. "East River - engine failure".

But when the vessel went down, the open doors allowed the interior to quickly fill with water and the passengers were unable to get free of their harnesses, authorities said.

Two of the people injured were declared dead the scene, officials said.

They said in a statement: "He was a smart, talented, and ambitious young journalist and producer who was well-liked and made a big contribution".

Nigro and NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill spoke to reporters Sunday evening.

The cause of the crash has not been determined.

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A haunting video shows the inside of a helicopter moments before it crashed in NY, killing all five passengers. But the pilot appeared on the surface, holding onto a flotation device as a tugboat and then police boats approached.

"There's no way those people could have gotten out of the helicopter", Adams told the Post.

Six people were on the privately chartered helicopter owned by Liberty Helicopters, which bills itself as the largest and most experienced helicopter sightseeing and charter service in the Northeast.

The owner, Liberty Helicopters, referred all inquiries to federal authorities.

A number of plane and helicopter crashes over New York City's East River and Hudson River have claimed lives in the past several years.

Two years earlier, another of its helicopters crashed in the Hudson River, though all of the people aboard survived.

The rescue operation Sunday took place in a 4 miles per hour current in water about 50 feet (15 meters) deep, under challenging conditions.The helicopter was recovered in the rescue operation and towed to a pier.

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