Video shows victims of fatal helicopter crash just before tragedy — that may have been avoidable

One of the passengers who died in a helicopter crash in Manhattan’s East River Sunday night shared a video from inside the cockpit as the helicopter was taking off for a sunset ride.

The New York Post obtained video that victim Trevor Cadigan, 26, reportedly posted to his Instagram feed just as the helicopter was heading towards Manhattan. Cadigan’s self-taken video captures additional passengers in the helicopter.


The four other victims of the crash have been identified as Daniel Thompson, 34, Tristan Hill, 30, Brian McDaniel and Carla Vallejos-Blanco, 29. The helicopter pilot, Richard Vance, managed to free himself after the aircraft landed in the East River, but the others were trapped in their seats and are believed to have drowned.

A police source told the New York Post that Vance had made a mayday call reporting engine trouble while the helicopter was still over land in Manhattan, and indicated that the pilot’s decision not to land the helicopter in Central Park — apparently an option — may have dramatically impacted the outcome for his passengers.

“He didn’t want to set it down in Central Park, so he headed to the river,” the source said.

Vance reportedly told investigators that he believes one of the passenger’s bags accidentally hit a fuel shutoff switch.

The pilot appears to have intentionally landed the helicopter in the river as its engine was failing. Witness video shows the helicopter landing fairly gently in the water, but it became quickly submerged in the cold water.

According to ABC News, Vance told investigators that he attempted to inflate the emergency pontoons, which would have allowed the helicopter to stay afloat, but that the pontoons did not inflate. The doors had been kept open for the sightseeing tour, allowing the helicopter to quickly fill up with water.

Divers had to cut the passengers from their seat harnesses in order to free them. Two of the victims reportedly died at the scene, while the others died at Bellevue Hospital.

When approached by a New York Post reporter outside his Danbury, Connecticut, apartment on Monday, Vance said he could not discuss the accident.



[Feature image: Trevor Cadigan (foreground)/Instagram]