The passengers were on a sightseeing photo shoot tour of New York City on the helicopter, which was operated by Liberty Helicopter Tours.
Thompson was a member of the Young New Yorkers' Chorus since 2008, serving on the board for eight years and taking over as president in 2016. The other three passengers, who had to be cut from the helicopter's safety harnesses, were declared dead at the hospital.
He said: "It took a while for the divers to get these people out".
The skies over NY constantly buzz with helicopters carrying tourists, business people, traffic reporters, medical teams and others. The National Transportation Safety Board said its investigative team would arrive on Monday. Those three were all pronounced dead in the hospital, fire officials said early Monday.
During the transmission, the pilot of another helicopter broke in and said he could see the crashed helicopter upside down in the water.
The doors to the Eurocopter AS350 were open so passengers could snap photos.
Currents were at 5 miles per hour and the water temperature was below 40 degrees, FDNY Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said at a conference.
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"East River - engine failure", he added. A video (shown below) captured by a bystander and posted to social media shows the helicopter impacting the water hard in a level attitude with floats deployed, before capsizing to the side.
McDaniel was visiting his longtime friend Trevor Cadigan, who had been living in NY since October 2017 after taking a job with a business magazine, Cadigan's father said.
Reviews of the business online have, by and large, been positive, but following the tragic death of five passengers that likely survived the crash, only to perish due to their restraints, some have raised questions about the business's safety record. "It's important to differentiate that the flight yesterday (Sunday) was not operating as a traditional sight-seeing flight, so they had a different tether in place for their passengers", said John Del Giorno, Eyewitness News helicopter pilot.
Within a minute the call was routed to an ambulance, the law enforcement official said, and soon Fire Department and Police Department sea rescue experts were working to respond.
Two helicopter crashes over the weekend called to mind the dangers of aviation.
While some people say there was more than one person aboard, other witnesses say only one individual was inside and was able to escape unscathed.
According to WABC-7, this is the third crash of a Liberty Helicopter aircraft in 11 years, and one of the previous two crashes was fatal: In August 2009, nine tourists were killed when a helicopter collided with a private plane over the Hudson River.