Texan, Argentine Among Helicopter Crash Victims; Watch Video

Texan, Argentine Among Helicopter Crash Victims; Watch Video

The passengers had chartered the helicopter from Liberty Helicopters for a private photo shoot.

The pilot - who repeatedly radioed "May day!" "East River. Engine Failure".

The victims were all between 26 years old and 34 years old, the New York City Police Department said.

A floating crane slowly raised the submerged helicopter to the surface Monday and towed it off to be examined, as Democratic US Senator Chuck Schumer said federal regulators should suspend flights by the helicopter's owner until the facts of the crash are known.

The FDNY received the call at 7:09 p.m., a spokesman said. Vance told authorities he believed the engine had failed.

Because the helicopter was flown with the doors off, passengers wore harnesses over their shoulders and between their legs, Adams said. The Federal Aviation Administration said it was investigating whether the flight had met regulations.

He said passengers were strapped in from the rear, making it hard to wriggle out of the harnesses.

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

Video of the incident filmed by an onlooker and posted on Twitter showed a red helicopter descending toward the water at dusk, then landing with a large splash before tipping onto its right side, its tail lights still flashing. "It nearly looked very surreal, and next thing we know it's approaching the water slowly and then it just completely crashed". A crash over the East River in October 2011 left three people dead. Liberty Helicopters said in a statement on their website. He says it looks like they deployed, but possibly not all of them until after the crash.

Ask questions: What kind of safety equipment is carried on board?

Rescue teams worked in below-40-degree temperatures and 50-foot-deep water with 4-mph currents to remove the passengers from the helicopter. The five passengers, who were strapped in, were trapped inside.

"It's cold water", witness Mary Lee told the New York Post. "There was a lot of screams". "The helicopter apparently went down". Its rotors then whipped the water and it flipped over, leaving its skis in the air.

The AP reported that one person was rescued by a tugboat on the scene. Previously, a Liberty aircraft collided with another helicopter shortly after takeoff at New York's West 30th Street Heliport on March 22, 2008. The floats are supposed keep a helicopter upright; the Eurocopter AS350 that crashed Sunday overturned and submerged. The helicopter reportedly is inverted in the water.

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