Tourist Chopper Crashes in East River – 1 Dead, 4 Injured

The inevitable has happened – a tourist chopper crashed into the East River this afternoon shortly after taking off from the East 34th Street Heliport. CBS News reports that one person is dead and 4 have been injured.

NY Post: Two survivors could be seen clinging from the chopper’s landing gear as divers swam towards them. Two women were pulled out and taken to Bellevue Hospital. One of the women was taken to the hospital in cardiac arrest.

A third passenger, a man, was taken to NYU Hospital. All three are in critical condition.
A fourth person, also a man, was treated on the pier.

The Bell 206 helicopter crashed at 3:22 p.m. as it tried to land and sank to the bottom upside down within seconds about 20 feet from the East 34th Street Heliport.
“I saw the helicopter in the water and it sank in seconds,” said witness Jill Rivera.
The private chopper is owned by Paul Dudley, who was piloting the chopper when it crashed, sources said.

Tourist helicopters have long been an issue for Brooklyn Heights residents. Over the last few years, the Brooklyn Heights Association, this blog and our elected officials have voiced concern over chopper noise and safety. For many of those against the tourist flights, the safety of those on board the helos as well as that of those on the ground was of paramount concern.

Our thoughts are with the victims of today’s accident and their families.

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  • ms elmers

    OMG i can’t believe that i am not sorry. i can’t bear this idiotic activity another minute and now this–a gift to brooklyn heights residents.
    these deaths are on this mayor’s head and his corrupt administration.

  • ….


    What this tragedy really means is that all chopper flights will now only be allowed to depart and land at the Wall Street heliport. What a gift for BKH residents…..

  • David on Middagh

    It’s not as if helicopter parts are falling out of the sky on a weekly schedule to put holes in our roofs and conk us on the heads. The danger (what little there is, given the infrequency of deathly crashes) falls upon the willing pilots and riders.

    What is not a red herring is the insane-making noise…

  • WillowtownCop

    The two men clinging to the wreckage in the Post pic do not look like tourists – they look like they have suits on.

  • Livingston

    @ ms. elmers:

    I cannot believe you consider a truly unfortunate event that resulted in a death as “gift to Brooklyn Heights” and your own relief from a minor annoyance. Raises self-absorbed to a whole new level, and it’s not pretty.

  • GHB

    How many people have to die before they ban these goddamn tourist helicopters?

  • The Huh?


    Surely you’re no longer surprised by comments like ms elmers’. There’s always someone who views a tragedy as some kind of retribution/comeuppance so they can say “I told you so.” It’s an unfortunate part of human nature.

  • Claire

    Was this a tourist or commuter helicopter? Tourist choppers all leave from the DMH, and they don’t fly down the East River. And I suspect this accident won’t have any impact on DMH traffic at all. I hate the tourist choppers with a passion, but I’d rather that NYC officials regulate or ban them on the merits (finally doing something about the incessant noise and air pollution) — I don’t wish any ill on the folks who use them.

  • Eddyenergizer

    All the reports I’ve seen say it was a “private helicopter” and while the passengers are from out of town they know the pilot.

  • ms elmers

    Livingston why don’t you comment on the story– why are you concerned with my feelings and my comments?

    Let me explain it to you since you are not getting it:

    Use of helicopters for vanity is not a smart way to live life so why should i feel sorry for someone who not only choose to endanger their own life but greatly disturbed mine in the process??
    This quiet neighborhood has turned into a sh*t show in the last couple of years because of the non-stop helicopter traffic and the noise that they make.
    No one likes them and the Mayor has been notified numerous times of how dangerous they are for wide public use as well as the potential to diminish quality of life for residents in the city. Manhattan had to sue to get rid of them, that’s how much they liked having them there. So here is an accident that has been talked about and anticipated and yes I told them so too. A few more and maybe this nonsense will stop.

  • T.K. Small

    I agree with Livingston. Expressing happiness or delight at the death of someone is inappropriate.

  • WillowtownCop

    @ Elmers – how exactly do you know what they were using the helicopter for?

  • moveaway

    they should turn the comments off on this blog.

  • ms elmers

    willowtownCop–the only thing that i know for sure is that they were not hunting osama bin laden? anything else does not work for me.

    p.s. and yes it’s a sad day when a tragedy brings welcome relief to someone else.

  • WillowtownCop

    I hate to argue on the internet but … what if it were a medical helicopter? Or FDNY? Army? NYPD?

    Those make just as much noise. You might need one someday.

  • ms elmers

    WillowtownCop–your comments are too simplistic–deal with adults much?

    This article started off by saying that the inevitable happened and that a tourist helicopter crashed.
    But more importantly this is exactly the problem with using helicopters for vanity. They should be used for essential activities like medical emergencies or wars as they are unsafe, intrusive and noisy so let’s not waste people’s patience with shuttling silly and unsuspecting tourists around our city.

  • WillowtownCop

    “OMG i can’t believe that i am not sorry. i can’t bear this idiotic activity another minute and now this–a gift to brooklyn heights residents.” – ms elmers

    I’m sorry MY comments are not mature enough for you. I met my fair share of self absorbed snobs in law school – I guess I just prefer the company of the slack-jawed working class rubes of the NYPD.

  • Eddyenergizer

    @ Ms Elmers, First you say “the only thing that i know for sure is that they were not hunting osama bin laden? anything else does not work for me”, and then you accuse Willowtown’s comments as being “too simplistic”. I take it introspection is not something you practice, if you did you’d realize you are an imbecile.

  • carol

    It’s time for the city to acknowledge that the tourist helicopter business is dangerous for the passengers and disruptive to the communities nearby. This unfortunate accident proves the point all the more since it was not technically a tourist ride – it was an experienced pilot giving friends a special treat to celebrate a birthday.
    Why is the mayor who banned smoking in public places so unwilling to admit that helicopters are dangerous. There are lots of other ways to see and enjoy NYC for tourists.

  • Janeonorange

    1. devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.

  • Wrennie

    ms elmers, I find it highly amusing that the way you criticize someone else’s maturity level is by sounding like a child yourself: “deal with adults much?” I’m also blown away by how unaware you are that your original comment is entirely offensive and gauche–it’s one thing to think it to yourself; an entirely different thing to broadcast it on a well-trafficked blog.

  • resident

    Does anyone have actual statistics on helicopter fatalities? How does it compare to fixed-wing aircraft, automobiles, motorcycles, bicycles, etc.? I mean, with the amount of complaints on here, helicopters are flying all the time, but this is only the second fatal accident that I can remember in the last 5-10 years (I also remember a crash into the river with a bunch of bankers on board, but everyone survived). In the same time period, I can think of at least two small plane crashes on NYC rivers with fatalities (the helicopter-plane collision and the Cory Lidle crash). I guess we should ban all small plane flights as well, after all private jets are a “vanity” that are “unsafe, intrusive and noisy.” Hell, you could say the same thing about sportscars and motorcycles. Ban them all!

  • Willow St. Neighbor

    You took the words right out of my mouth but I think the definition of “narcissist” works as well.

    A person who is overly self-involved, and often vain and selfish.

  • Western Brooklyn

    What a nightmare!

    Joyriding helicopters do not belong over densely-populated urban areas!

  • Master Of Middagh

    You’re a bad human, Ms. Elmers! Bad! Bad! Bad!

    Helicopter rides are perfectly safe for the most part. Clearly, the vast majority of them do not crash, (and there are a lot of them) so they aren’t unreasonably unsafe. Not to mention all the copters used be emergency personal and the media.

    And then you come on here and say this 20-year-old girl deserved to die on her birthday because her being in a helicopter annoyed you… What if it had been a hot air balloon instead? Would you still call her a victim of vanity?

    Honestly, if I could alter reality to change places between you and the poor young girl, I would do it; because you are the only person around deserving of such a fate for wishing it on another.

    You’ve just raised the ire of half your neighborhood against anyone they encounter named Ms. Elmers, so you better hope that isn’t your real name. Or, better yet, you might consider leaving this neighborhood that you have so little respect for- before you get run out on a rail (whatever that means)…

  • weegee

    It’s trite, I know, but I can rattle off a list of accidents, fatal or otherwise, that I’ve covered within a half-mile radius of Montague and Clinton that involved cars, tractor-trailers, motorcycles, garbage trucks, bicycles, postal trucks, subways, tour buses, and city buses. Nothing involving aircraft.

  • Gerry

    I bought my father in law a costly $$$ 1 hour ride on a helecopter and he had a great time he flew directly over our building on Montague Terrace and we all were up on the roof to wave hello – and then he proceeded to enjoy a nice ride over Brooklyn.

    The costly ride was a birthday present to him he is one of those guys who has everything and needs nor wants nothing and so I came up with the idea for the helecopter ride.

    I agree that there are too many helecopters in the air but to abolish all of the tourist helecopters would be a loss.

  • philica

    I too was appalled by the comment by ms. elmers, but looks like everyone covered my thoughts about it. Shameful.

  • David on Middagh

    The lead-off comment certainly wasn’t polite, but it was honest, and the schadenfreude is understandable.

    Didn’t we try to break the spirit of a holed-up enemy by blasting raucous music in his general direction? Noise is a torture technique. I don’t think anyone who has fantasized about aiming a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher at a low-hovering chopper could empathize much in this situation. I know I can’t.