Helicopter Pilot Miraculously Survives Crash into New York's Hudson River
A helicopter pilot is lucky to be alive after his aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing into New York’s Hudson River.
On Wednesday, a helicopter operated by Zip Aviation crashed into the water with only the pilot on board at approximately 2:30 p.m. ET, a Blade spokesperson, confirmed to PEOPLE.
“About 30 minutes ago, a helicopter made a safe emergency landing on floats in the Hudson River near the heliport. There were no passengers on board,” the rep tells PEOPLE. “The pilot was not injured and immediately exited the aircraft.”
The on-demand short-distance flight service rep added that the helicopter was being repositioned to the West Side Heliport for fueling by the operator and was not servicing a Blade mission.
The New York Police Department’s Special Operations Unit also confirmed the incident on Twitter, noting that the aircraft had just taken off from a heliport on West 30th Street when it crashed into the water. The pilot of the helicopter did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
“Harbor secures a helicopter that fell into the Hudson River moments after taking off from the W 30th Street heliport. The pilot was uninjured and safely removed to land by a nearby passenger ferry,” NYPD Special Ops’ tweet reads.
The “passenger ferry” that rescued the pilot was operated by Capt. Adam Sciaino of the New York Waterway. In a press release, the company that operates ferries between Manhattan and New Jersey said this was the captain’s second rescue in 10 years.
“It was just instinct. Just another day for NY Waterway rescues. We’re right here. Edwin Montoya is an outstanding deckhand. He moved instantly to the rescue,” Capt Sciaino said in a statement.
According to the Special Ops authorities, scuba divers were called in shortly after the crash to assist with the helicopter’s recovery.
The aircraft has since been transported to land as the National Transportation Safety Board looks further into what caused the emergency landing, the NYPD Special Ops team reports on Twitter.
“SCUBA deployed divers to assist in the recovery of the helicopter that was involved in today’s accident,” they wrote. “The helicopter is being lifted from the Hudson River by @USACE_NY and transported to land to continue the @NTSB investigation.
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Since the incident, Blade tells PEOPLE that the accident is being treated as an “emergency landing.”
“The helicopter was being repositioned to the West Side Heliport for fueling by the operator, Zip Aviation, and was not servicing a Blade mission,” their rep says. “Because there were no injuries, the incident is being treated as an emergency landing and NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) will not be investigating. All Blade services are operating normally.”
While the pilot luckily survived the crash, New York Fire Department Firefighter Tim O’Neill revealed that the pilot and another heliport worker had suffered “non-life-threatening injuries” caused by debris.
Sergeant Jessica McRorie, a spokesperson for the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information, tells PEOPLE that the injury the pilot sustained was to his hand: “The helicopter had refueled and was attempting to move to another location when it landed in the water. The pilot sustained a minor injury to his hand as a result of the landing.”
“We were the first units to arrive on scene of the helicopter in the Hudson River, and Lt. Chris King immediately notified Manhattan Dispatch,” O’Neill wrote in a statement on Facebook. “The pilot was exiting the helicopter and getting onto a civilian boat.”
“Firefighter Chris Morgan and I entered the helicopter in the water to make sure there were no additional passengers. The rear part of the cabin had already begun to fill up with water. We verified that the emergency fuel was shut off, and secured the helicopter using ropes to the bulkhead and an FDNY Marine unit,” he continued.
“We train for this – we are set up for scuba diving, and were prepared for a surface rescue or a dive into a submerged helicopter,” O’Neill added.
The incident comes just two days after two floatplanes carrying cruise ship passengers collided off the southeastern coast in Alaska, killing at least five people and injuring at least 10.