Authorities identify 5 victims killed in NYC helicopter crash

Deadly NYC helicopter crash

NEW YORK -- Police on Monday identified five victims who were killed when a helicopter crashed into New York City's East River on Sunday night. Investigators say a strap from a passenger's safety harness may have inadvertently wrapped around a fuel shut-off lever, resulting in engine failure which sent the aircraft plunging into the frigid water.

The pilot, who was the only survivor, is identified as 33-year-old Richard Vance of Danbury, Connecticut, according to sources familiar with the investigation. The FAA reports he is a certified helicopter pilot and instructor.

Vance was able to unbuckle himself from the sinking helicopter and was rescued by a tugboat. Emergency divers had to remove the five passengers from tight safety harnesses while they were upside down in the water, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. 

Audio of mayday call before helicopter crashed in East River

The Eurocopter AS350 helicopter had been chartered for a photo shoot, according to CBS New York.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the cause of the crash.

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Five people died after a helicopter crashed in New York City's East River on Sun., March 11, 2018. CBS News

Here is a list of the helicopter crash victims:


Trevor Cadigan, 26

Trevor Cadigan was a video journalist who lived in Dallas, Texas. He had recently worked as an intern at Business Insider in New York City.

"He was a smart, talented and ambitious young journalist and producer who was well-liked and made a big contribution," the news site said in a statement.

In 2016, Cadigan graduated from Southern Methodist University. He previously freelanced with an entertainment and culture site that was managed by the Dallas Morning News. He also interned with ABC News affiliate WFAA-TV where his father, Jerry, was the station's production manager.

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Trevor Cadigan

Brian McDaniel, 26

Brian McDaniel, a fire rescue officer who lived in Dallas, was in New York City visiting his friend Trevor Cadigan. McDaniel had been with the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department since May 2016.

"Despite his short tenure, hearts are heavy with grief," the department said in a statement.

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Brian McDaniel 

Tristan Hill, 29

Tristan Hill was engaged to be married. He had been working recently at a sightseeing tour company but had previously been a basketball operations assistant with the Westchester Knicks, a Development League affiliate of the New York Knicks.

He "brightened every room he entered, with a contagious smile and an unparalleled enthusiasm for life," the team said in a statement.

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Tristan Hill

Carla Vallejos Blanco, 29

Carla Vallejos Blanco was tourist visiting from Argentina, according to the country's consulate. 

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Carla Vallejos Blanco  

Daniel Thompson, 34

A law enforcement official told The New York Times that Thompson worked for the helicopter tour company that operated the aircraft. 

He was the board president of the Young New Yorker's Chorus, and the group released a statement saying, "Daniel loved his friends unconditionally and was always there — at any hour of the day or night. He was passionate and kind, and was always someone to lean on. He had both a mighty voice, as well as a mighty heart."

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Daniel Thompson