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Victims Identified In Deadly East River Helicopter Crash

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) - A Texas firefighter, an Argentine woman and a video journalist were among five passengers killed when a helicopter plunged into the East River on Sunday.

Investigators began working Monday to determine what caused Sunday night's crash. It killed everyone aboard except the pilot, who managed to free himself as the helicopter flipped over and rapidly sank into the water.

The slain passengers included 26-year-old Fire-Rescue Officer Brian McDaniel from Dallas; 26-year-old Trevor Cadigan, a video journalist who also hailed from Dallas but had recently worked at a business news site in New York; and 29-year-old Carla Vallejos Blanco, who was from Argentina, according to its consulate.

Also killed was 34-year-old Daniel Thompson and 29-year-old Tristian Hill, according to police.

McDaniel had been with the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department since May 2016.

East River Crash Victims

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

Cadigan had most recently been an intern at Business Insider until a few weeks ago.

"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.

A 2016 graduate of Southern Methodist University, he had previously freelanced with an entertainment and culture site managed by the Dallas Morning News, writing and producing videos on such topics as craft beer, and interned with his hometown's WFAA-TV. His father, Jerry, is the station's production manager.

Thompson was a member of the Young New Yorkers' Chorus since 2008, serving on the board for eight years and taking over as president in 2016.

"He was an integral part of growing the organization, helping to achieve its mission of bringing innovative choral music to new audiences," the group said in a statement sent to CBS2. "His love of music and dedication to the organization and its members will be greatly missed."

The Eurocopter AS350 helicopter had been chartered for a photo shoot when it went down about 7 p.m. Sunday.

As the aircraft foundered, the pilot was heard on an emergency radio transmission calling: "Mayday, mayday, mayday."

"East River — engine failure," he added.

The pilot was rescued by a tugboat, but emergency divers had to remove the passengers from tight safety harnesses while they were upside down, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.

"It took a while for the divers to get these people out. They worked very quickly, as fast as they could," Nigro said. "It was a great tragedy that we had here."

The National Transportation Safety Board dispatched investigators on Monday. The cause of the crash has not been determined.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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