Chopper Crashes Into in Hudson River Shortly After Takeoff

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A helicopter crashed into the Hudson River Wednesday afternoon shortly after taking off from a Manhattan heliport, authorities said.

The pilot, identified as Eric Morales, was repositioning his aircraft after refueling. He flying over the water to get to where he typically picks up customers when the helicopter began to lose altitude for unknown reasons about 50 feet from the heliport.

When it went down, flotation devices deployed to keep it above water. Morales, 34, was rescued by a passing NY Waterway ferry a short time later.

The FDNY said Morales was treated for a minor laceration to his hand, and an employee at the heliport was hurt by debris. 

The helicopter is operated by ZIP Aviation, but has Blade Helicopters branding on the side. It was not immediately clear if Blade, which runs short trips from Manhattan to local airports for $195 a seat, was leasing the aircraft.

Morales has been a pilot with ZIP since January 2019, according to a LinkedIn profile. Before that, he flew for Helicopter Adventures in Myrtle Beach for five months in 2018.

Ferry Captain Adam Sciaino was transporting passengers between West 39th Street in Manhattan and 14th Street in Hoboken when he happened to see the aircraft go down around 1:20 p.m. His deckhand deployed a rescue device off the ferry bow, NY Waterway said.

“It was just instinct. Just another day for NY Waterway rescues,” Sciaino said in a statement. “We’re right here. Edwin Montoya is an outstanding deckhand. He moved instantly to the rescue.” 

It was the second rescue for Sciaino in 10 years with the company.

The aircraft was pulled out of the water and lifted onto a barge Wednesday afternoon.

Emergency personnel flooded the scene, and the NYPD urged people to avoid the area. The city’s emergency management system also blasted out an email warning people to expect a heavy emergency presence near 12th Avenue and West 34th Street.

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