Hudson River, NY Plane And Helicopter Collide, Aug 2009



By Verena Dobnik.
Associated Press writer.

New York - A sightseeing helicopter carrying five Italian tourists collided with a small plane above the Hudson River on Saturday, sending debris into the water and forcing people on New Jersey's waterfront to scamper for cover. Authorities believe all nine people aboard the two aircraft were killed.
The accident, which Mayor Michael Bloomberg called "not survivable," happened just after noon and was seen by hundreds and maybe even thousands of people out enjoying a crystal clear summer day.
The two aircraft went down just south of the stretch of river where a US Airways jet landed safely seven months ago. But this time, there was no miracle.
"This is not going to have a happy ending," Bloomberg said. He said, hours after the accident, that he thought it fair to say "this has changed from a rescue to a recovery mission."
Two bodies were recovered in the water, one floating free and one in the wreckage, and other bodies were spotted in the debris, the mayor said. The crash victims included five Italian tourists and a pilot on the helicopter and the three people on the plane, including a child, Bloomberg said.
The tourists from Bologna, Italy area were:
FILIPPO NORELLI, 16, his son.
TIZIANA PEDRONI, 44, his wife.
GIACOMO GALLAZZI, 15, their son.
Witnesses described the same scene a low-flying plane smashing into the helicopter, and then wreckage scattering. The plane's wing was severed by the impact.
The plane a Piper PA-32, was registered to LCA Partnership in Fort Washington, Pa., and had just taken off from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey for Ocean City, N.J., authorities said. The helicopter was a Eurocopter AS350 owned by Liberty Tours, a sightseeing and charter company. It was struck by the plane shortly after lifting off from a heliport on Manhattan's West side.
At least some people saw the crash developing. Another Liberty Tours helicopter pilot on the ground at the heliport saw the plane approaching the helicopter and tried to radio an alert to the pilot, New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. The warning either wasn't heard, or didn't happen in time.
Kelly Owen, who was visiting from Florida, saw the crash from a Manhattan park built upon an abandoned elevated rail line.
"First I saw a piece of something flying through the air. Then I saw the helicopter going down into the water," she said, adding that the crowd in the park seemed too stunned to react. "I thought it was my imagination."
On the Hoboken waterfront, people scattered as pieces of debris fell from the sky. A wheel from one of the aircraft lay on Hoboken's Sinatra Drive.
"We saw the helicopter propellers flew all over," said Katie Tanski, of Hoboken.
Afterward, much of the wreckage sank quickly in the river.
The cause of the crash wasn't immediately clear, but the National Transportation Safety Board was investigating, Bloomberg said.
The accident happened in a busy general aviation corridor over the river that is often filled with sightseeing craft on nice days.

The Index-Journal Greenwood South Carolina 2009-08-09