A private helicopter with five people onboard crashed into the East River in New York City Tuesday afternoon while attempting to land, killing one and sending three people to the hospital. Three passengers, two women and a man, were pulled from the 60 degree water by first responders near 34th Street in Manhattan. The two women were rushed to a nearby hospital in critical condition. The man was also taken to a hospital in stable condition. The pilot, who is the owner of the downed chopper, swam safely to the riverbank after the helicopter hit the water. Rescue divers from the New York Police Department pulled the body of the dead woman from about 50 feet of water after searching for over an hour. All of the passengers aboard the helicopter are believed to be tourists from England.

Witnesses say it appeared the pilot was struggling to keep the helicopter in the air, possibly experiencing some mechanical problems. The chopper lifted to about 25 feet off the ground and spun around three or four times before ultimately splashing into the water and sinking in a matter of seconds. “It went down pretty fast, you could see the splash, you could see the top of it and it just disappeared,” said an eye witness. “It looked like it was trying to land at the heliport and missed the landing.” The Bell 206 helicopter went down in the river near a heliport on 34th Street. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has launched an investigation into the crash. Investigators from the NTSB are due to arrive at the crash site sometime this evening.

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