East River Accident: Luggage May Have Bumped Fuel Shutoff
The pilot of a helicopter that autorotated into New York's East River Sunday evening told investigators that one of the passenger's bags may have inadvertently bumped the emergency fuel shutoff. The AS350 reported engine failure before it autorotated into the river, appearing to touch down on skid-mounted floats. The pilot, 33-year-old Richard Vance, was the only survivor. Five passengers who had booked the aircraft for a photo flight were killed in the mishap.
CNN published dramatic footage and ATC audio of the mishap early Monday morning. It appears to show the aircraft touching down hard in the East River near Gracie Mansion. Although it remained upright briefly, the helicopter slowly rolled left and inverted. NYPD divers rushed to the scene but had difficulty freeing the passengers from their harnesses.