Plane wreckage found, search for bodies goes on
Divers Monday located the wreckage of the plane involved in Saturday’s fatal crash with a sightseeing helicopter over the Hudson River, as families of the victims pushed for answers.
After suspending the search for several hours because of poor visibility and currents, investigators also continued to look for the remains of two of the nine victims. The other seven have been found.
Meanwhile, in Italy – where the five tourists who died in the helicopter lived – prosecutors said they would open a manslaughter investigation. But with no jurisdiction, it was unclear what could come of it.
The Italian ambassador, Giovanni Castellaneta, met with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and urged the National Transportation Safety Board to conduct its investigation quickly. The devastated widow of Michele Norelli, 51, who died along with the couple’s 16-year-old son Filippo, pleaded with Castellaneta to find out what caused the crash.
“She asked me, ‘please, ambassador, try to know the truth of what happened in this tragedy,” Castellaneta said Monday at City Hall.
Witnesses have said the plane approached the helicopter, which had just taken off from the West 30th Street helipad for a 12-minute tour, from behind and clipped it with a wing as it ascended.
The tourists were part of a group of 10, and one of the couples was celebrating its 25th anniversary; the other five members of the party had taken copter ride the day before, said Castellaneta.
The victims in the plane were the pilot, his brother and 16-year-old nephew.
Elected officials also continued to call on the Federal Aviation Administration to tighten rules for low-flying aircraft, which are not required to communicate with air traffic controllers below 1,100 feet. The plane involved in the crash was also not required to file a flight plan.
Bloomberg did not endorse changing the rules, reiterating that he would defer to the FAA.
He noted that the tours, which he said take hundreds of passengers up each day, provide an economic boost for the city.
“These are things tourists like and we need tourists very much,” he said. “The jobs of an awful lot of New Yorkers depend on tourism.”