Helicopter Crashes Into East River; 1 Dead

Chopper Finally Salvaged; NTSB Launches Probe That Could Last Months

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A helicopter crashed into the East River off of 34th Street in Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon, leaving one person dead and sending others to local hospitals.

PHOTO GALLERY: East River Helicopter Crash

The crash happened at around 3:22 p.m., shortly after the chopper took off from the 34th Street helipad.  Crews at the scene lifted the chopper out of the water Tuesday evening and were able to get it onto a recovery boat.

1010 WINS’ Al Jones Speaks With People At The Scene

The passengers were family friends of the pilot, Paul Dudley.  Among them were Paul and Harriet Nicholson, a British couple who live in Portugal.  In addition, Harriet Nicholson’s daughter, Sonia Marra, and her Australian friend, Helen Tamaki, were also passengers — both were living in Sydney.

Marra died at the scene. She was apparently trapped inside the helicopter for about an hour and a half before rescue crews were able to get to her.  The two surviving women were rushed to Bellevue Hospital — one in cardiac arrest and the other in respiratory arrest. Paul Nicholson was taken to NYU Medical Center and released.

1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa Reports From Bellevue Hospital

Dudley was able to swim away from the wreckage and was treated at the scene. He has already had a preliminary interview with NTSB investigators.

The NTSB is also planning to take an in-depth look at the helicopter, and do a more thorough interview with the pilot to determine mechanical versus human error.  They said they will be looking at Dudley’s training, any previous accidents and other factors as well.

Dudley is a commercial pilot and owns Linden Airport Services. The company manages the Linden Municipal Airport in New Jersey.  In 2006, Dudley landed a Cessna aircraft in a Brooklyn park near Coney Island after the engine failed. No one was hurt in that emergency landing.

“It’s a sad day, but I think one of the comforting things was the way the Police Department, Fire Department, Office of Emergency Management came together, worked together and did whatever was humanly possible to reduce the loss of life,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference.

Dozens of emergency responders risked their lives to save others Tuesday and were saddened by the precious life that was lost.  NYPD Emergency Service Units and FDNY rescue crews knew their window to save the remaining survivors was closing fast and some officers even jumped in, in full uniform.

1010 WINS’ Eileen Lehpamer Hears From Rescue Workers

Earlier in the evening, CBS 2’s Chris Wragge spoke with eyewitness Robert Dress, who said he was in the area with his son to watch helicopters take off.

Dress said the chopper was “swirling around like it was in trouble,” adding that “as soon as you realize something’s not right, it just went down.”

“It went in upside-down,” Dress said adding that the helicopter “didn’t break apart.”  He said that he reacted by running near the scene and calling 911 and added that the response from officials was “very fast.”

CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis spoke with another witness, who saw the helicopter shortly after it crashed.  That witness said he saw the submerging helicopter begin to drift down the river.

He said that he saw two men holding onto the sinking chopper “screaming for help.” He said that by the time authorities arrived at the scene, the helicopter was completely submerged “upside-down.”

CBS 2’s Lonnie Quinn said that the water temperature in the area was 67.8 degrees Fahrenheit. CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez said hypothermia is “unlikely” at that temperature.  He added that people would be able to survive about two to four hours in that temperature depending on much they exert themselves.

There were apparently no floatation devices on the skids of the private helicopter, believed to be a Bell 206.  The Bell 206 is considered one of the most popular models in the world. A new helicopter costs between $700,000 and $1.2 million.

In August of 2009, a small plane collided with a helicopter over the Hudson River, killing nine people — including five Italian tourists.

Earlier in 2009, an Airbus 320 landed in the Hudson River after hitting birds and losing both engines shortly after taking off from LaGuardia Airport. The flight, U.S. Airways Flight 1549 — piloted by Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger — became known as the “Miracle on the Hudson.”



  • F A C T S

    All i know is that video evidence shows that when rescuers arrived, the helicopter still had not begun to sink, it was just turned over. These poor excuses of human “rescuers” could have easily looked 2 feet below the waters surface and seen a person trapped. Even if she could not survive, the last lady cwould have been given a better shot in 10 minutes than to be suffering, trying to get free and eventually staying in helicopter while it sank 50 or so feet in over an hours time! Shame on these folks. There are no heroes in this case! As usual, it was luck. First responders were in the right place at the right time. Had they probably not been chilling on their boats, probably having a hotdog and beer, their would be 0 survivors. Saw this on every news channel and smiled, could only say that I AM PROUD to have gotten out of that A-Hole state of NY. Watched the worst rescue forces on the face of the earth (nypd/fdny) try and resue 5 simple people in 70 degree, diarrhea brown mud water! Yuck

    • Jimmy Joyce

      Do the world a favor and kill yourself. Loser

  • Peter

    How is this Philadelphia news?


    LOL, yes too bad.

  • What!?!

    ” low life wall St protesters” are you kidding me…

  • Perry Bachmann

    Of course, the REAL tragedy in all of this is that there isn’t any way to blame Obama for it.

    • Liberals are Evil

      Of course not…it was Bush’s fault!


      Obama never closed Guantanamo as he promised and he is waging war like the blood thirsty war monger he is. He is also raising taxes and trying to take away our civil liberties. Had Obama inspected the helicopter it wouldn’t have crashed so yes it is his fault 100%.

      • Nita

        @ Double_Chinned _Puppeteer: Your Stupid

  • JSJS

    Oh please stop showing the facts. Hide it – The more I look the more upset I become. STOP SHOWING IT……….

    • Toots

      Then stop looking dumb dumb

  • Kelly Starters

    Did you see the size /weight of those passengers?
    My 2 cents says the
    helicopter had to many heavy passengers in it and could not lift correctly.
    The pilot looked as if he likes to eat as well. Human failure.

    • Keep_it_real

      It would be great if fat al sharpton was on board

      • Nita


  • Pat Johnson

    I also noticed appeared as a corpse when they showed the people holding
    onto the skid of the overturned helicopter,something fishy about this course
    of events as it is being told us now.

  • flygirl
  • Concerned

    I called CBS at 5:11pm and was told they are aware of the third person now and will stop showing it. Let’s see if this is true. Somehow I doubt it since they’ve shown it twice since I called. Let’s see if they stop now.

    • Concerned

      If anyone is interested they continue to show it. I called again and was told they are aware. I asked why they keep showing it and the woman on the other end HUNG UP ON ME!!! I will never watch CBS news again.

  • itduzz

    Narayee Takbeer – ALLAH HU AKBAR

  • Millie

    Mr. DuBois and Ms. Johnson, why are you avoiding the fact that there is a person submerged under water by the chopper? You can clearly see the pilot is holding onto the person. Is this the person that was missing?

  • HobblingIn Manhattan

    Please get MORE of your facts straight. The accident in August 2009 was not on the East River… it was on the Hudson River.

    • fact

      “Earlier in 2009, an Airbus 320 landed in the Hudson River after hitting birds and losing both engines shortly after taking off from LaGuardia Airport. The flight, U.S. Airways Flight 1549 — piloted by Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger — became known as the “Miracle on the Hudson”

      • HobblingIn Manhattan

        To Whom It May Concern:

        You are referrring to the WRONG incident. There were two incidents that took place on the Hudson River.

  • http://juno.com bob p. nyc

    there are (3) people in the picture that you are showing holding on to the copters skid. he seem to have gone down when it sank. why isn’t anyone aware ?? look at the picture….

    • Millie

      I’m with you Bob. You can see it clearly that there’s 3 people and one of them is submerged under water.

  • blueskyys4u

    im watchinh this on tv and not for nothing am i the only person that sees that BOTH of those people that the rescuer is holding on to , is deffinately not alive
    please quit showing this video…………we’re not MORONS!!

    • Millie

      Blueskyys4u, you aren’t seeing things. I see it too. I wonder why they aren’t mentioning it on the news.

    • Concerned

      @blueskyys4u…clearly we are not the morons! CBS has not reviewed the tape are continuously showing the death of one these passengers. I’m infuriated that viewers are spotting this as clear as a bell and the TV station has not noticed this.

    • Concerned

      I emailed the news department and told them to stop showing it. They’ve recovered the fifth victim which was a woman and in my opinion was this woman. RIP. Let’s see if CBS stops showing the tape (as they should).

  • Concerned

    Please review your tape of the people holding onto the skid. At the very, very beginning of the tape there are THREE people! The man in the suit is trying to hold someone up. You can see them submerging. That person gets pulled down with the chopper when it sinks. You keep showing it over and over. You can see their arm, with a watch on it in front of the man & other woman. Please stop showing it, this person clearly went down!

  • Warren I. Schaeffer

    In the picture of the upsidedown helicopter with people holding on to the skids: There are 3 people holding on NOT two. Just look at the video and you see a hand inside where the skid is and the person in front holding on to whomever that is. No one has seen fit to mention that or notice

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