Survived pilot breaks the silence after a fatal helicopter crash in NY, where all passengers died

Junie Sihlangu
Mar 13, 2018
08:52 A.M.

A private helicopter crashed after taking off in New York City recently. The aircraft was carrying five passengers and the pilot.


All the passengers died when the helicopter went down in the river. According to CNN, the accident happened on March 11, 2018, and a passenger’s luggage is suspected to be the cause of it.

Richard Vance, 33, the pilot of the aircraft that went down in New York claimed that one of the passenger's bags may have inadvertently hit the emergency fuel shutoff button. This would have led to the crash that killed the five passengers according to a senior law enforcement official.

The passengers were on a Liberty Helicopters chopper that had been chartered for a private photo shoot. All the victims were between 26 and 34 years old.

On Monday afternoon, the helicopter was lifted from the water and is being examined by experts from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) according to member Bella Dinh-Zarr. Investigators will inspect the aircraft’s flotation devices, the weather and other factors to try and determine the cause of the crash.


This was the third crash for Liberty Helicopters in the past 11 years. US Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York called on the FAA to suspend Liberty Helicopters' FAA operating certificate.

He asked that this is done until the company's safety record and this crash are fully inspected.

"One of the most difficult parts of the rescue were that five people were tightly harnessed."

Fire Department of New York Commissioner Daniel Nigro, CNN, March 13, 2018

"There are too many allegations. No one knows what's happened. I don't think Liberty should be flying until we get to the bottom of this," Schumer said about the many crashes that Liberty Helicopters had.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) stated that the helicopter, a Eurocopter AS350, went down in the East River near Roosevelt Island at 7 p.m. An audio recording of a mayday call to LaGuardia Airport revealed that the pilot had said the helicopter was experiencing engine failure.


The helicopter was upside down and submerged when emergency services arrived. Police called for a barge with a crane to pull the chopper out of the water near 23rd Street.

The pilot was able to free himself and was rescued. Vance is a licensed helicopter pilot from Danbury, Connecticut, according to FAA records.


The NYPD identified the victims as Carla Vallejos Blanco, 29; Daniel Thompson, 34; Tristian Hill, 29; Trevor Cadigan, 26; and Brian McDaniel, 26. Blanco was a tourist from Argentina and her family is planning on getting her body back to Argentina.

The NTSB would probably be looking at the pilot's training, experience, and immediate response during the crash. They will also check on what on the helicopter had caused the crash if there was anything at all.


The NTSB will also check environmental factors that may have contributed to the crash, according to Gary C. Robb, an aviation attorney based in Missouri. Robb said the NTSB would then release a preliminary report, and a probable-cause accident report would follow.

Any helicopter operating around water should have floats so it can land on water and stay upright. Based on the video of the crash, the attorney speculated that one of the floats on the helicopter did not activate.

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