2019-06-11

One dead in helicopter crash on roof of Midtown Manhattan building, officials say





It’s Tuesday. So long, power lunches. The Four Seasons Restaurant on East 49th Street closes for good after lunch today.

Weather: Showers are likely early, then clouds yield to mostly clear skies. Brisk winds could turn gusty. The high should be in the upper 70s.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until July 4.
A helicopter took off from a heliport on the East River yesterday afternoon amid fog and rain. Just over 10 minutes later, it crashed onto the rooftop of a skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan.

Only the pilot was aboard the aircraft, officials said, and he was killed. An airport manager at the helicopter’s home base in Linden, N.J., identified the pilot as Tim McCormack.

Officials rushed to the scene, the AXA Equitable Center at Seventh Avenue and 51st Street, where the crash had shaken the building and the helicopter burst into flames. Then came a familiar yet unsettling routine: A skyscraper was evacuated. Emergency medical workers came from all directions and converged on the building. Smoke billowed from its roof.

News of the crash rattled New Yorkers, many of whom wondered if it had been an accident or something deliberate.

An explanation of what caused the crash was not immediately available, but officials quickly said it did not appear to be an act of terrorism. Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill raised the question of why the pilot was flying in poor weather.

[Read more about the helicopter crash in Midtown Manhattan.]

Helicopter crash sites can pose difficulties, especially when they are hundreds of feet above the ground. Firefighters took elevators to the building’s upper floors, according to Daniel A. Nigro, the city’s fire commissioner. Once there, they used special hoses and “special pumpers” to put water on the fire.

“If you’re a New Yorker, you have a level of PTSD, right, from 9/11,” Governor Cuomo said at the scene.

[The crash showed the perils of flying over the city’s skyline.]

It is rare to see the exact moment a top official learns of an emergency. The Times’s Ali Watkins was interviewing a police official when it happened.

Here’s her dispatch:

Forty-five minutes before a helicopter crashed in Manhattan, I stepped into the office of John Miller, the Police Department’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, at Police Headquarters. We had traded sporadic messages for weeks, trying to coordinate a meeting, and had finally nailed down a time.

Mr. Miller and I were wrapping up a wide-ranging discussion about terrorism. It was notable, we both remarked, that the city had gone some time without a major attack. The conversation was interrupted when a man stuck his head into Mr. Miller’s office.

There was a helicopter down in Manhattan, the man said. It was some kind of accident, possibly on a crowded Midtown street.

The words caused an instantaneous flurry at the headquarters. Mr. Miller sprang from his chair and said a polite goodbye, and then prodded anyone nearby for more details. I was a forgotten observer, standing awkwardly in the lobby as officers and other employees moved around me. “Helicopter?” “Crash landing?” “Midtown?” Words bounced around the reception area.

Less than a minute later, Mr. Miller was hustling toward an elevator, bound for the scene.
‘The Weekly’ on New York City’s taxi industry
Recently, we told you about a two-part Times investigation that showed how industry leaders got rich by providing reckless loans to drivers buying overpriced taxi medallions — and how government officials failed to stop it.

Many of those drivers are stuck deep in debt.

Soon after The Times published the articles, on May 19, city, state and federal officials announced investigations into the financial bubble in the market for medallions.

Now there’s a new way to experience the story.

The Times has a new weekly television show called, appropriately, “The Weekly.” It airs on Sundays at 10 p.m. on FX; streaming is available on Hulu beginning the next day. This week’s episode follows the Times reporters Brian M. Rosenthal and Emma G. Fitzsimmons as they uncover the truth behind the crisis in the yellow cab industry.

The episode also delves deeper into the story by introducing viewers to Mohammad Hossain, who drives his cab seven days a week and earns about $25,000 annually. He owes $750,000 on the loan he took out to buy his medallion.

When Mr. Rosenthal asked about his debt, Mr. Hossain’s voice quivered, and he spoke about suicides by other drivers.

Later in the episode, Mr. Rosenthal interviews Matthew W. Daus, who was the city’s taxi and limousine commissioner when medallion prices escalated. He said he was aware of the inflated prices, but was not responsible for stopping it.

Suzanne Hillinger, the producer and director of the episode, recalled Mr. Rosenthal’s interview with Mr. Daus. “There’s no music under that scene because we felt very strongly that the scene was tense and had its own mood to it just in real life,” she said.

“There’s something really powerful about visual storytelling and its ability to communicate emotion,” she added.
A helicopter crashed into the roof of a Manhattan building Monday afternoon, killing the pilot, in what officials said was an attempt at an emergency landing. There were no other injuries or deaths, officials said.

The crash at the building on Seventh Avenue, a few blocks south of Central Park, occurred about 1:45 p.m. The aircraft was initially described as a plane, a fire department spokesman said.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) told reporters that there was no indication of the crash being intentional.

“If you’re a New Yorker you have a level of PTSD, right, from 9/11,” he said. “So as soon as you hear an aircraft hit a building, I think my mind goes where every New Yorker’s mind goes.”

President Trump said he had been informed about the accident, later telling reporters “It’s a big tragedy ... a very sad event.”
In a statement, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) reiterated the crash did not appear to be a terrorist act. He added there was no ongoing threat to the city following the “absolutely shocking, stunning incident.”

“There were no other injuries that we know of at this point in time to anyone in the building or on the ground,” de Blasio said. “And I want to just say, thank God for that.”

The pilot was identified by his employer late Monday as Tim McCormack, according to the Associated Press. He’d worked at East Clinton Volunteer Fire Department, located in Dutchess County, N.Y., since 1994. The department mourned McCormack in a Facebook post, writing that he was well-respected throughout the county.

“Tim was a dedicated, highly professional and extremely well trained firefighter,” the department wrote. “Tim’s technical knowledge and ability to command an emergency were exceptional.”

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