Helicopter safety in spotlight after 2 weekend crashes

5 killed in NYC helicopter crash day after pilot unhurt in Jacksonville crash

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two helicopter crashes over the weekend called to mind the dangers of aviation.

Authorities said five passengers, who were in tight safety harnesses, were killed Sunday when a helicopter went down Sunday in New York City's East River. The pilot was able to free himself and was rescued.

Back in Jacksonville, police said, a pilot was uninjured when a helicopter crashed Saturday in an open field on Fort Caroline Road near the St. Johns River.

News4Jax on Monday looked at both accidents with Harald Siegl, the pilot of the SKY4 helicopter.

Siegl said helicopters are complex and they can be more difficult to fly than most planes. He said a number of things could have gone wrong in New York City, so he did not want to speculate about the crash. But he said his heart goes out to everyone affected.

"I have friends fly up in New York," Siegl said. "When it happened yesterday, that's the first thing that pops in your head, 'Is it one of my friends?'"

A federal official later told The Associated Press that the pilot who survived a deadly helicopter crash in New York City's East River told investigators he believed a passenger's bag might have hit an emergency fuel shutoff switch in the moments before the chopper went down. The official was briefed on the investigation but was not authorized to speak publicly about it and spoke Monday on condition of anonymity.

The pilot was heard on an emergency radio transmission saying there was an engine failure.

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