By M.L. NESTEL and AARON KATERSKY
Two people were killed and three were critically injured after a helicopter crashed into Manhattan’s East River Sunday evening, authorities said.
The red Eurocopter AS350 helicopter was carrying six passengers when it went down, police sources said. Three of the passengers were critically wounded after being pulled from the water by NYPD and FDNY emergency divers.
A bystander captured the private tour helicopter’s descent into the water on video. The footage shows the final seconds as the chopper’s propellers strike the glassy river’s surface, its engine sputtering.
The helicopter hit the cold water somewhere between East 86th and East 96th Streets on Manhattan’s Upper East Side neighborhood about 7 p.m., local and federal authorities later confirmed.
The pilot was experiencing engine failure, sources said.
The Federal Aviation Administration tweeted that it was investigating the crash and added that the helicopter is “reportedly inverted in the water.” It added that the National Transportation Safety Board would lead the investigation.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, “five people have been recovered” by divers from the FDNY and NYPD.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has been informed of the ongoing effort in the water to the rescue effort. Officials were preparing for a news conference.
Soon after the helicopter went down, a series of dispatches captured in real-time over FDNY’s scanners by Broadcastify.com break down the initial emergency response.
“We got reports from NYPD that a helicopter is upside down in the water,” a dispatcher stated.
Then, divers from both the NYPD and FDNY were going into the water, according to the dispatcher.
At the same time, Coast Guard confirmed its agency launched two 45-foot Response Boats and one 29-foot Response Boat to the crash site.
At least one private tugboat helped aid one survivor to safety, the Coast Guard added.
An unidentified eyewitness was dining at a restaurant when she spotted the red helicopter diving into the water.
“We were … having dessert and noticed a red helicopter going full speed toward the water,” she told ABC station WABC. “It almost looked very surreal and next thing we know it’s approaching the water slowly and then it just completely crashed.”
Afterward, she said members of the Coast Guard arrived and were attempting to help the helicopter passengers.
“We’re just hoping they survived.”