Five passengers on a tourist helicopter were killed after it crashed into the East River in New York on Sunday, NBC reported. The helicopter’s pilot was the only survivor.

The helicopter overturned after crashing, leaving the passengers trapped inside. Divers rescued three of them from the frigid water, but they succumbed to their injuries at the hospital. Two passengers died on the spot.


“One of the most difficult parts of the rescue were that five people were tightly harnessed,” CNN quoted New York Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro as saying. “People had to be cut out.”

In an audio recording of the distress call to the LaGuardia Airport, the pilot is heard saying that the helicopter was experiencing engine failure before it plummeted into the river.

Three choppers that the company – Liberty Helicopters – owns have crashed in the past 11 years, CNN-affiliate WABC TV reported. In August 2009, nine people were killed after a helicopter and a small, private plane collided over the Hudson river. Two years before that, in July 2007, another sightseeing helicopter carrying eight people had fallen into the Hudson river. An off-duty paramedic, who was on board, had helped everyone escape.