It will take some time before investigators can say for sure what caused a helicopter to crash into the East River Sunday evening, but CNN reports on one possible explanation. The pilot told investigators that a passenger's bag may have hit the emergency fuel shutoff button, according to a law enforcement source cited by the network. The pilot, identified as 33-year-old Richard Vance, survived the crash, but all five passengers on the aircraft operated by Liberty Helicopters were killed.
In air traffic audio just before the crash, the pilot can be heard saying, "Mayday, mayday, mayday," reports the Daily News. "East River, engine failure," he says. A LaGuardia Airport dispatcher, having trouble understanding him, asked him to repeat what he said and asked whether he needed any assistance. At that point, another voice chimes in, "It was a mayday call, LaGuardia."