5 dead after helicopter crashes in New York City's East River

Emergency vehicles involved in rescue of downed helicopter in the East River

The helicopter reported an engine failure during a mayday call to air traffic control, according to an audio posted to liveatc.net.

The other victims have been confirmed to be Dallas firefighter Brian McDaniel, Argentinean tourist Carla Vallejos Blancos, and New Yorkers Tristan Hill and Daniel Thompson. McDaniel, 26, had been with the department since May 2016.

"Despite his short tenure, hearts are heavy with grief", the department said in a statement.

Cadigan was the son of Jerry Cadigan, the production manager for WFAA in Dallas, and had interned at WFAA previously.

There are no accident or incident histories or closed enforcement actions for the Eurocopter AS350 helicopter, the N350LH, or for pilot Richard Vance, according to FAA spokesman Jim Peters.

Meanwhile, a recording has emerged of the mayday call made by Mr Vance, where there appears to be a delay before the receiver of his call realises the gravity of the situation. The water temperature was juts 39 degrees at the time of the crash.

"One of the most hard parts of the operation we're told is the five people besides the pilot were all tightly harnessed so these harnesses had to be cut and removed in order to get these folks off of the helicopter which was upside down at the time and completely submerged", said FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro. "I still get choked up about it sometimes", said Dallas Fire-Rescue Lt. J. Ray Smith.

"In the rare case of an emergency, the harness can be released by opening the quick-release clip in the back of the harness", a voice says over video of the quick-release clip.

"It's a great tragedy that we had occur here on an otherwise quiet Sunday evening", Nigro added.

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The National Transportation Safety Board dispatched investigators on Monday.

The NTSB investigation is focused on why the helicopter went down and why the six flotation skids failed to keep the chopper upright. "We will not be determining probable cause or speculate what may have caused this accident".

Witnesses to Sunday's crash said the helicopter was flying noisily, then suddenly dropped and quickly submerged.

"It's cold water", witness Mary Lee told the New York Post.

Divers were then dispatched to rescue the remaining passengers, all of whom were buckled in with harnesses and had to be cut out of the upside-down aircraft in 50 feet of water, New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Sunday.

Helicopter owner Liberty Helicopters is referring all inquiries to investigators.

The skies over NY constantly buzz with helicopters carrying tourists, businesspeople, traffic reporters, medical teams and others.

In 2009, a sightseeing helicopter of the same model and operated by the same company as the one in Sunday's wreck collided with a small, private plane over the Hudson River, killing nine people, including a group of Italian tourists. Two other passengers died weeks later as a result of their injuries.

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

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