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Helicopter Crashes in New York's East River

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- One person has died after a helicopter spun out of control over New York City's East River and plunged into the water and quickly sank.

Four people were immediately pulled ashore while a search continued for the fifth passenger. Rescue personnel immediately began performing heart compressions on one of the individuals initially pulled from the water and who appeared to be unconscious.

The final passenger was recovered more than two hours after the crash at 5 p.m. and pronounced dead.

Two women were taken to Bellevue Hospital and one man was taken to New York University Hospital and was listed in serious condition.

Officials said the passengers were from Britain.

The Bell 206 helicopter took off from a heliport at 34th Street. Joy Garnett told WABC-TV that she saw the chopper lift off and almost immediately begin to spin around several times and then plunge into the river.

"He took off and spun," one official said. The pilot tried to turn it about and land, but he missed by 40 feet, officials said. The chopper landed in 50 feet of water and sank within minutes.

"Whoever was on hand, people that work here, were throwing things in to them, but the (helicopter) was upside down, its pontoons in the air," Garnett said. "We could only see two figures clutching onto the pontoons and it took about five minutes for it to sink."

Garnett said the onlookers on the dock called 911.

The pilot was identified as Paul Dudley, ABC News has learned. Dudley made a spectacular emergency landing in a Brooklyn park in 2006 when a Cessna 172 he was piloting had engine trouble. In that landing, no one was injured.

Dudley, who was rescued from the East River, is the manager at the Linden, N.J., airport. He flew his chopper to the helipad at East 34th Street to pick up his four passengers, officials said.

The chopper went down about 3:20 p.m. and within 10 minutes rescue divers were in the murky water searching for survivors, officials said.

Ten boats from the New York police and fire departments as well as the Coast Guard and a helicopter were part of the search and rescue scuba teams in the water. Some ferry service on the East River was suspended during the search.

Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were on the way to investigate the crash.

Helicopters that fly under 1,000 feet are not in contact air traffic controllers and don't file a flight plan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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