NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A helicopter went into the water of the Hudson River around 1:20 p.m. on Wednesday, near 30th Street and the Lincoln Tunnel.
Eric Morales, the 35-year-old pilot, was the only person on the helicopter when it went down. Shortly after the crash, he was rescued out of the water by a NY Waterway ferry crew.
Morales did not appear to have suffered any serious injuries beyond a cut on his hand.
A second person at the helipad suffered injuries, possibly from debris from the crash, and was treated at the scene.
Morales said was coming in to land when he felt something wrong. He tried to pull up, but after that failed, he did his best not to hit the helipad where people were standing and the highway beyond.
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Witnesses say the chopper was coming into the West 30th Street helipad and fell short about 50 feet of the landing area. The helicopter had just taken off from the helipad before attempting to return.
According the helicopter’s operator, the chopper was re-positioning and was not on a flight at the time.
“I was recording the helicopter taking off and it did like a spin,” said Jack Lincoln from Middletown, N.J. “I guess the wind caught it and it just went right into the river. It happened so quickly we couldn’t believe what happened, but everybody turned around and said a helicopter crashed.”
Morales deployed floats along the helicopter’s landing skids which, when inflated, kept the helicopter from sinking in the water.
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The chopper is operated by Zip Avation chopper service, which flies shuttle service between Manhattan and local airports for companies from Manhattan to local airports.
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The NY Waterway ferry crew aboard the Gov. Thomas Kean boat that rescued the pilot was carrying passengers between West 39th Street in Manhattan and 14th Street in Hoboken when they saw the helicopter go down.
This incident was the second rescue in 10 years for Ferry Capt. Adam Sciaino. Deckhand Edwin Montoya deployed the Jason’s Cradle rescue device off the bow of the ferry to pull the pilot aboard.
The southbound lane of FDR Drive was closed for about three hours as authorities investigated the crash, but reopened to traffic around 4:00 p.m.
The FAA responded to the scene and has launched an investigation. There was no indication drugs or alcohol played a role in the crash.