Second Death in East River Chopper Crash

2nd fatality eight days after helicopter crash

Thursday, Oct 13, 2011  |  Updated 1:01 PM EDT
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Dramatic video from the scene of rescue near the East River where the helicopter crashed Tuesday afternoon.

NBC New York

Dramatic video from the scene of rescue near the East River where the helicopter crashed Tuesday afternoon.

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Helicopter Pulled Out of East River [Raw]

The Bell 206 Ranger helicopter that plunged into the East River Tuesday afternoon is seen in this video being fished out of the water in the evening.
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A second woman has died as a result of the East River helicopter crash last Tuesday.

Helen Tamaki, a passenger in the sightseeing helicopter that took off from the 34th Street heliport and then plunged into the river Oct. 4, died from injuries she sustained in the crash, Bellevue Hospital confirmed Wednesday.

Tamaki's official cause of death was listed as complications from near-drowning, according to the medical examiner's office. She died at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11.

Tamaki's girlfriend, Sonia Marra, died in the river when she became trapped in the helicopter. Her body was found in the water about an hour after the crash.

Marra was in New York City with her parents and Tamaki to celebrate her 40th birthday. The four had taken off in a helicopter to tour the city.

Marra's 60-year-old mother, Harriet Nicholson, and her 71-year-old stepfather Paul Nicholson, survived the crash.

Tamaki initially survived the crash as well, but was listed in critical condition.

 

The Nicholsons are originally from England but were living in Portugal.

Helicopter pilot Paul Dudley told National Transportation Safety Board investigators after the crash he had just taken off from the East 34th Street Heliport and was 30 to 50 feet above the river when the nose of the helicopter swung unexpectedly to the left.

When he tried to turn right to return to the heliport, the aircraft went out of control, Dudley told investigators.

In a preliminary report Wednesday, the NTSB said the helicopter, a Bell 206, had been in the shop just two days before the fatal flight for an annual inspection.

During an annual inspection mechanics take much of an aircraft apart, check for corrosion and replace worn parts. The work can take several weeks.

Three-fourths of one main rotor blade broke off when the helicopter hit the water, the report said.

Investigators had previously said they were unsure if the blade broke before or after the impact. They have not found the missing piece, according to the report.

The NTSB report is preliminary and does not give the cause of the accident. That determination could take months.

 

The passengers were all friends of Dudley, an experienced pilot who also manages the Linden, N.J. airport. He has 2,287 hours of flying experience, including 1,500 hours in helicopters and 420 hours in Bell 206es, according to the NTSB report.

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