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Helicopter crash-lands on top of building in New York City, killing pilot

A helicopter crash-landed on the roof of a midtown Manhattan building Monday, sparking a fire and killing one person believed to be the pilot, New York City...

Posted: Jun 10, 2019 2:46 PM
Updated: Jun 10, 2019 6:15 PM

A helicopter crash-landed on the roof of a midtown Manhattan building Monday, sparking a fire and killing one person believed to be the pilot, New York City officials said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said there was no indication that the crash was an act of terror, and he said there were no injuries to anyone in the building or on the ground.

'I want to just say, thank God for that. This could have been a much worse incident,' he said.

The helicopter took off from the 34th Street heliport at about 1:32 p.m., NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said, and it crashed on the roof of 787 Seventh Ave. about 11 minutes later.

A fire broke out when the helicopter crashed, and the FDNY reached the roof and put out the fire quickly, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.

Preliminary information is that only the pilot was on board the Agusta A109E helicopter when it crashed on the roof of the building, FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said. The Agusta 109E is an eight-seat, multipurpose helicopter manufactured in both single and twin-engine variants.

FAA air traffic controllers did not handle the flight, and the NTSB will be in charge of the investigation, Bergen said.

'The helicopter is pretty obliterated at this point,' de Blasio said in an interview with CNN. 'It was obviously a very hard hit, there was a fire on top of that. There's not much left of that helicopter. But look, we don't know what happened and why it happened, this is very unusual.'

O'Neil said the pilot has been preliminarily identified but officials are working to confirm that and notify his family before releasing his name. He could not answer when asked if the pilot made an emergency call from the helicopter.

'That's part of the investigation, to see if there was any contact made with air traffic control,' he said.

'You could feel the building shake'

Several witnesses in the building said they felt the building shake and then were told to evacuate.

At the time of the incident, moderate to heavy rain was falling in the city and visibility at Central Park was down to 1.25 miles. Winds were from the east at 9 mph.

Lance Koonce said he heard something that sounded like a helicopter flying very low, and when he looked out the window he saw a sheet of flame and smoke.

'It was over pretty quickly, and even the smoke did not last long,' he said.

Nathan Hutton, who works in the building, told reporters about the chaos in the building as people tried to evacuate.

'It took a half hour to get from the 29th floor down to the ground floor. There were just too many people, it was too crowded, and everybody was trying to get off on all the floors at the same time,' he said.

'You could feel the building shake, and you could actually hear the alarms.'

He said when alarms went off, security told people to evacuate the building via the stairs and not the elevators. 'We could feel it when it hit but no one knew what it was,' he said.

Cuomo said the incident brought back memories of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks for New Yorkers.

'If you're a New Yorker, you have a level of PTSD from 9/11,' he said. 'And I remember that morning all too well. So as soon as you hear an aircraft hit a building, my mind goes where every New Yorker's mind goes.'

President Donald Trump tweeted that he had been briefed on the crash.

'Phenomenal job by our GREAT First Responders who are currently on the scene. THANK YOU for all you do 24/7/365! The Trump Administration stands ready should you need anything at all,' he tweeted.

The FDNY said firefighters climbed to the top of the 51-floor building to put out the fire.

US Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, who represents the area in Congress, said the building at 787 Seventh Ave. was not equipped with a helipad. She called to ban non-essential helicopters from Manhattan.

'We cannot rely on good fortune to protect people on the ground. It is past time for the FAA to ban unnecessary helicopters from the skies over our densely packed urban city. The risks to New Yorkers are just too high,' she said.

The NYPD closed much of midtown Manhattan to pedestrian and vehicle traffic after the crash, reopening the streets around 4 p.m.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1228867

Reported Deaths: 40806
CountyCasesDeaths
Queens1534247815
Kings1503768020
Suffolk1243842560
Nassau1113932529
Bronx1027395252
Westchester829331780
New York736343424
Erie507161350
Richmond437851367
Monroe43226742
Rockland31346806
Orange28168642
Onondaga26954520
Oneida16342335
Dutchess16115298
Albany15771251
Niagara11664235
Broome10743249
Saratoga883978
Schenectady8347118
Ulster7448186
Rensselaer6596101
Putnam629472
Chemung5479107
Chautauqua535054
Oswego476262
Ontario459279
Steuben4496130
Cayuga426769
Sullivan375148
Wayne356850
Genesee356696
Herkimer348548
St. Lawrence343756
Cattaraugus330860
Madison304775
Jefferson303121
Livingston260537
Cortland258753
Tompkins257222
Columbia234467
Allegany231375
Tioga214554
Montgomery212372
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Clinton204016
Fulton199947
Warren198237
Greene196455
Orleans188268
Chenango168039
Otsego160021
Washington142421
Lewis141922
Seneca117745
Franklin10869
Delaware98316
Essex95216
Schoharie8735
Yates78316
Schuyler69910
Hamilton1451
Unassigned3992
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