FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 8, 2009
MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG BRIEFS NEW YORKERS ON MID-AIR COLLISION OVER THE HUDSON RIVER
The following are Mayor Bloomberg’s remarks as delivered:
"I'm sad to report that about 12 o'clock this afternoon, there was an accident which we do not believe was survivable, between an airplane and a helicopter.
"The helicopter was a sightseeing helicopter, an A3 Star 50 made by Eurocopters and we think the airplane was a Piper Saratoga. The airplane, we think, took off from Teterboro and had on board a pilot and two passengers, one a child. We do not have the names or ages or where they come from. And on the helicopter there were five Italian tourists and a pilot.
"We have at this point found two bodies. We're not sure where one of them came from. The other one we're reasonably sure came from the helicopter. We found some wreckage. We believe that it is the helicopter, but the visibility is about two feet at a depth of 30 feet on the Jersey side of the river, opposite roughly 14th Street where the wreckage is located.
"We've not found the second piece of wreckage. We're assuming we have the helicopter, but I cannot for sure say that, in which case we're looking for the airplane or vice-versa.
"With me today is our Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, Kelvin Drayton, First Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Emergency Management, Joe Esposito, Chief of the Department of the NYPD, Ronny Spadafora, Deputy Assistant Chief of the FDNY, John Peruggia, Chief of EMS, Scott Stringer, our Borough President has joined us, and we also have representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board, which will do the complete investigation. We also have the Coast Guard on board and we have representatives from the Port Authority, the Harbor Police, New York State Police. Over on the Jersey side we've been working with the Jersey State Police and local police forces there.
"What we can tell is that the plane left from Teterboro. The helicopter had just taken off from West 30th Street. There were a number of eyewitnesses who saw the crash. It would appear that the airplane ran into the back side of the helicopter, but keep in mind, with all of these things, number one until National Transportation Safety Board makes the determination, nothing is a fact, and it can take them many weeks or even years to determine what goes on. This probably won't be that big an investigation but they will do a complete investigation before they announce their conclusions as to what happened, and whether there are any steps that should be taken to improve safety and to prevent similar tragedies such as this.
"The Police Department has sent some of their Community Affairs Unit, and the Mayor's Office of Community Affairs both are with the families of those who had taken off from 30th Street and are providing counseling. I gather that they don't speak English so we have some Italian speakers there. And we have professionals who sadly all too often have to learn how to deal with tragedy, and help the families get through this difficult period.
"I might point out that as you would expect, the Red Cross is here, providing the kind of assistance that we need. Both the Fire Department and the PD have boats and divers and everything's being done, but I think it's fair to say this has changed from a rescue to a recovery mission. And that probably was what we could have started out with the instant it happened.
"There is some evidence from eyewitnesses that one of the wings of the airplane was severed or separated, probably severed by the rotors of the helicopters, but we won't know, as I said, until the NTSB does their investigation.
"We will, over the next hours, remove the bodies from whether it's the helicopter or the airplane that we found, but at this point our paramount focus is on making sure that our divers are safe. We don't want them to make this tragedy any worse than it's already been, and we will continue looking for the other aircraft, whichever one it is. There's not a lot else to say. I'd be happy to take some questions, but nobody really knows any more than what I've just said, and so if you want to ask about more, you're going to get the same answer."
Stu Loeser/Marc La Vorgna (212) 788-2958