Helicopter Crash Family: Thank You NYC

The family of the woman who died says she loved her first trip to Manhattan.

Thursday, Oct 13, 2011  |  Updated 1:06 PM EDT
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    The family of a woman who came to Manhattan to celebrate her 40th birthday and died in a helicopter crash this week said in a statement Friday that it gave them comfort how much she had truly enjoyed her first trip New York City.

    Sonia Marra died in the crash that left her mother, Harriet Nicholson, and longtime girlfriend, Helen Tamaki, injured. They remain in critical condition. Marra's father, Paul Nicholson, was also in the helicopter and was released after a brief hospital stay.

    He and Marra's sisters, Amanda Moore and Annie Nicholson, released the statement, their first public words since the helicopter crashed into the East River Tuesday afternoon just moments after takeoff.

    The family was visiting from overseas -- Marra and Tamaki from Australia, and the Nicholsons from Portugal -- to celebrate Marra's birthday.

    "Sonia was loving her first experience of New York, the city and its people," her family said. "She was incredibly happy to be here and it gives us some comfort to remember that. We are a strong family and will cope with our loss in our own way."

    The family also thanked the rescue teams "who acted with great courage" along with hospital staff and NYPD "for their compassion, kindness and great care."

    "We have felt protected and cared for in a way we will never forget," the family said.

    The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash and questioned the pilot, Paul Dudley, for several hours on Wednesday. Dudley is a friend of the family.

    Investigators are looking into the winds at the time of the crash, as well as the weight allowances for the aircraft.

    Nothing has been ruled out, investigators said, but the engine has not shown signs of catastrophic failure, and there is no indication of a fire.

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