Pilot reported engine failure as helicopter crashed

NEW YORK (AP) — A Texas firefighter and an Argentine woman were among five passengers killed when a helicopter plunged into New York City’s East River as the pilot said the engine had failed.

Argentina’s New York consulate said Monday that Carla Vallejos Blanco was one of the victims in the crash Sunday night. The Dallas Fire-Rescue Department confirmed that Fire-Rescue Officer Brian McDaniel also died.

McDaniel, 26, had been with the department since May 2016.

“Despite his short tenure, hearts are heavy with grief as we not only try to come to grips with his loss departmentally but to also be there in every way that we can for his family,” the department said in a statement.

The Eurocopter AS350 helicopter went down about 7 p.m. in the water near New York’s mayoral residence. All five passengers perished, but the pilot was able to free himself and survived.

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 on the charter helicopter being used for a photo shoot 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.”