Bag may have hit fuel switch be­fore chop­per crash in NYC

Manteca Bulletin - - Nation -

NEW YORK (AP) — A pi­lot who sur­vived a he­li­copter crash that killed his five pas­sen­gers told au­thor­i­ties he be­lieved a pas­sen­ger’s bag might have hit an emer­gency fuel shut­off switch in the mo­ments be­fore the chop­per went down, a fed­eral of­fi­cial told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Mon­day.

The of­fi­cial was briefed on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion but was not au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly about it and spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity.

The Na­tional Trans­porta­tion Safety Board said it would look at the switch, the chop­per’s flota­tion de­vices and even the pho­tos on pas­sen­gers’ cam­eras to fig­ure out what caused the crash Sun­day in the East River.

NTSB mem­ber Bella Dinh-Zarr said the agency hasn’t spo­ken to the pi­lot but hopes to do so.

“May­day, may­day, may­day,” pi­lot Richard Vance said in an emer­gency ra­dio call as the Euro­copter AS350 tour he­li­copter foundered. “East River — engine fail­ure.”

The chop­per flipped over and quickly sank, killing a Texas fire­fighter, an Ar­gen­tine woman, a young video jour­nal­ist, a for­mer bas­ket­ball team as­sis­tant and an­other per­son on what au­thor­i­ties said was a char­ter flight to take pho­tos.

The he­li­copter’s six emer­gency floats in­flated, but Dinh- Zarr said in­ves­ti­ga­tors would look at whether there were any prob­lems with those de­vices or the har­nesses avail­able to pas­sen­gers on a chop­per that was legally al­lowed to fly with its doors open. The NTSB and other agen­cies in­volved in the probe also hope to re­cover the pas­sen­gers’ cam­eras and elec­tron­ics “to cap­ture a dig­i­tal por­trait of the last mo­ments of this flight,” she said.

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