A helicopter crashed in the Hudson River Wednesday afternoon, leaving the pilot and a dock worker who was on the ground with minor injuries, officials said.
The incident happened around 2:25 p.m. near 30th Street and 12th Avenue, police and fire officials said. The pilot, a 34-year-old man, was the only person on board.
"He was able to get out of the helicopter and get on the pad [of the helicopter] and a boat came by," and picked him up, NYPD assistant chief of Manhattan South Stephen Hughes said at a news conference.
The helicopter, owned by ZIP Aviation, had just been refueled on a helipad at 30th Street and 12th Avenue when the pilot went to reposition it onto another helipad on the north side of the pier and fell short of the landing pad, Hughes said. Emergency responders tied the helicopter to the pier until they were able to lift it from the water around 4 p.m.
The pilot suffered an injury to his left hand and the dock worker hurt his right wrist when he slipped while trying to get away from the helicopter as it came down, according to Hughes.
Ashton Byrd, 28, who is visiting the city, said he was passing by right as the helicopter took off from the helipad. It went several yards before plunging tail-first into the water, he said.
“Everything looked normal. All of a sudden it goes sideways and spinning,” he said. “It deployed the balloons and then it leveled off but it went down tail-side into the water.”
Byrd said the helicopter floated for a bit and he saw the door open but then nearby boats arrived to help the pilot, cutting off his view of the scene.
The pier at 30th Street and 12th Avenue has a non-airport heliport owned by Air Pegasus, according to the company’s website.
A woman who answered the phone for ZIP Aviation said she did not have any information about the crash. The FDNY was offloading the helicopter’s fuel Wednesday afternoon and the National Transportation Safety Board will lead the crash investigation.
FDNY firefighters Tim O’Neill and Chris Morgan were among the first units to arrive on the scene, just as the pilot was boarding the boat that picked him up. O’Neill and Morgan, who are trained in water rescue, went into the river to make sure no one else was inside the helicopter as it began to take on water.
"The rear part of the cabin had already begun to fill up with water. We verified that the emergency fuel was shut off, and secured the helicopter using ropes to the bulkhead and an FDNY Marine unit," O’Neill wrote in an FDNY Facebook post. "We train for this – we are set up for scuba diving, and were prepared for a surface rescue or a dive into a submerged helicopter."
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was "relieved" that there were no deaths or serious injuries related to the crash.
"Thank you to our first responders for your quick action. Please stay clear of 34th St. and 12th Ave. on the West Side so emergency response teams can complete their work," the mayor tweeted.
The crash comes just over a year after a helicopter crashed into the East River, killing five passengers. The pilot in that incident was the only survivor.