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Helicopter crashes in New York City's Hudson River; no major injuries reported

A helicopter crashed into the Hudson River near Manhattan on Wednesday afternoon, New York authorities said. CBS New York reported that the chopper's 35-year-old pilot is OK and was rescued from the water. He apparently only had a hand injury. There were no passengers on board. Officials said the helicopter had just taken off after refueling when it encountered an unspecified problem.

The Bell 206 helicopter crashed into the river shoreline around 2:30 p.m., the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. Investigators responded to the crash site, the agency said. The NYPD said fire officials were on the scene within three minutes, CBS News' David Begnaud reported.

A second person at the helipad suffered injuries when he was trying to get out of the way of the chopper and slipped, injuring his wrist. He was treated at the scene, CBS New York said. 

CBS New York points out that the pilot, identified as Eric Morales, deployed floats along the helicopter's landing skids which, when inflated, kept the helicopter from sinking in the water.

The aircraft was eventually hoisted out of the Hudson River later Wednesday by a marine crane after about 90 minutes in the water.

According the helicopter's operator, the chopper was re-positioning and was not on a flight at the time.

"I was recording the helicopter taking off and it did like a spin," Jack Lincoln of Middletown, New Jersey, told CBS New York. "I guess the wind caught it and it just went right into the river. It happened so quickly we couldn't believe what happened, but everybody turned around and said a helicopter crashed."

Officials said southband lanes of traffic have reopened on 12th Avenue between 42nd and 23rd Streets.

Video shows moment helicopter crashes into NYC's Hudson River 00:43

The Associated Press said New York City has seen its fair share of minor and major helicopter wrecks and landings.

A sightseeing chopper crashed into the East River in 2018 where five people died. In 2011, three people died in another crash into the same river. In 2009, nine people were killed when a sightseeing chopper collided with a small plane, not far from Wednesday's accident.

"Helicopter flights are not subject to proper regulation and safety standards and pose significant public safety risks to our community," Rep. Caryolyn Maloney said Wednesday in response to the incident. "Today's crash is yet another reminder that oversight of helicopter operations over New York City is absolutely necessary."

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