“Despite his short tenure, hearts are heavy with grief as we not only try to come to grips with his loss departmentally; but to also be there in every way that we can for his family.”
Passenger’s bag may have caused helicopter crash
On Monday, new information about Sunday’s deadly crash came to light.
The pilot said one of the passenger's bags may have inadvertently hit the emergency fuel shutoff button, leading to the crash that killed five passengers, a senior law enforcement official said.
The passengers were on a Liberty Helicopters chopper that had been chartered for a private photo shoot, authorities said.
"One of the most difficult parts of the rescue were that five people were tightly harnessed," Fire Department of New York Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. "People had to be cut out."
The pilot was able to free himself and was rescued, Daniel Nigro said.
In an audio recording of a mayday call to LaGuardia Airport, the pilot can be heard saying that the helicopter was experiencing engine failure.
Company had 3 crashes in 11 years
Liberty Helicopters describes itself on its website as "the largest and most experienced helicopter sightseeing and charter service in New York City."
The company has "a fleet of 10 state-of-the-art Airbus helicopters (formerly American Eurocopter)," according to the website. "We have been in business and flying safely for over 30 years," the website says.
This is the company's third crash in 11 years, according to CNN affiliate WABC-TV. In August 2009, nine people were killed after a helicopter and a small, private plane crashed into each other over the Hudson River. Investigators said the helicopter was flying too high.
Two years before that, in July 2007, a Liberty sightseeing chopper carrying eight people dropped into the Hudson river. An off-duty paramedic on board helped everyone escape, WABC reports.
The NTSB will likely look at three things: the pilot's training, experience and immediate response during the crash; what, if anything, on the helicopter caused the crash; and what environmental factors may have contributed to the crash, said Gary C. Robb, an aviation attorney based in Missouri.