A total of six people were on board the helicopter, including the pilot, New York Police Department Commissioner James O’Neill told a press briefing at the East 34th Street Heliport. He said the aircraft was owned by Liberty Helicopter Tours and was on a private charter for a photo shoot.
“The pilot freed himself, the other five did not,” Fire Department of New York Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. “Police and fire department divers entered the water and removed the other five." Three of them were in a critical condition in hospital and the remaining two were pronounced dead at the scene.
“The pilot is OK, taken to the hospital and checked out,” Nigro added, but said authorities so far “don’t have an outcome” on the other victims. He said it took divers a while to free them, working in 15 meters (50 feet ) of water with a 6.4 kmph (4mph) current and a water temperature of below 4.5 degrees Celsius (40 degrees Fahrenheit).
The coastguard said in a statement that five people had been recovered from the crashed six-seat helicopter. "Five people have been recovered by New York City Police Department and the New York City Fire Department divers and their conditions are currently unknown," it said.
Emergency divers were seen in the water around the partially-submerged and inverted wreck of the Eurocopter AS350. The Fire Department crews were also present at the site, near 91st Street in Manhattan.