He­li­copter crashes on roof of New York City sky­scraper

Lodi News-Sentinel - - SPORTS - By Kerry Burke, En­nica Ja­cob, Gra­ham Ray­man and Gin­ger Adams Otis

NEW YORK — A he­li­copter crash-landed onto the roof of a Mid­town sky­scraper just min­utes af­ter take­off in Man­hat­tan Mon­day, killing the pi­lot in the “oblit­er­ated” wreck­age, of­fi­cials said.

The Agusta A109E air­craft made a hard land­ing in heavy rain and dense clouds on top of the 54-story AXA Eq­ui­table Cen­ter on Seventh Ave. at W. 51st St. about 1:45 p.m., 11 min­utes af­ter he went aloft from the East 34th Street Heli­port, of­fi­cials said.

A fire erupted im­me­di­ately af­ter the crash on the roof, which was not equipped with a he­li­copter land­ing pad, law en­force­ment sources said.

The force of the ter­ri­fy­ing land­ing onto the roof was so in­tense “the area was ac­tu­ally sunken down,” said Adri­enne Walsh, a lieu­tenant from Res­cue 1.

“There was a cat­walk around it. (The pi­lot) fell in be­tween the cat­walk and had taken some beams down.”

The body of the pi­lot re­mained in the man­gled cock­pit more than an hour af­ter the crash, sources said. No­body else was on board the chop­per. His name wasn’t im­me­di­ately re­leased.

“It was oblit­er­ated,” Mayor Bill de Bla­sio said of the crashed chop­per.

Ques­tions were im­me­di­ately raised about why the copter pi­lot took the route he did, or why he ap­par­ently had not sought per­mis­sion from La­Guardia traf­fic con­trollers for the route that took him over the sky­scrapers in Mid­town.

“Some­thing mys­te­ri­ous here,” de Bla­sio said in re­marks to CNN hours later. “Why would this pi­lot take this round­about route? Some­thing strange hap­pened here ... . The (Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion) needs to look at this very care­fully.”

The he­li­copter crum­pled in the land­ing and the roof suf­fered ex­ten­sive fire dam­age. Fuel from the he­li­copter was leak­ing down the sides of the build­ing in the af­ter­math of the crash, sources said.

Gov. An­drew Cuomo, who was at an event not far from the crash scene, held an im­promptu press con­fer­ence on the cor­ner while us­ing an um­brella to shel­ter him­self from the rain.

“There was a he­li­copter that made a forced land­ing, emer­gency land­ing, or landed on the roof of the build­ing for one rea­son or an­other,” Cuomo said. “There was a fire that hap­pened when the he­li­copter hit the roof. Peo­ple that were in the build­ing said that they felt the build­ing shake.”

The fire was brought un­der con­trol in 30 min­utes, ac­cord­ing to Thomas Richard­son, chief of fire op­er­a­tions.

“If you’re a New Yorker you have a level of PTSD from 9/11,” Cuomo said. “As soon as you hear an air­craft hit a build­ing my mind goes where every New Yorker’s mind goes.”

Cuomo added there was no in­di­ca­tion the crash was any­thing more than ac­ci­den­tal.

De Bla­sio also told CNN “there’s no ev­i­dence of any act of ter­ror or mo­ti­va­tion.”

“This is a com­mer­cial pi­lot,” he said of the vic­tim. “This is some­one who’s been do­ing this work for a while.” He added that he­li­copter “ap­par­ently” was an ex­ec­u­tive he­li­copter “used to ferry around ex­ec­u­tives.

He­li­copters haven’t been land­ing on build­ings in Man­hat­tan for decades, the mayor noted.

THEODORE PARISI­ENNE/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Ac­cord­ing to ini­tial re­ports, one per­son was killed when a he­li­copter crashed onto the roof of a build­ing at 787 7th Av­enue in Man­hat­tan on Mon­day.

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