By Calvin Palmer
Four more bodies have been recovered after yesterday’s crash between a helicopter and plane above the Hudson River in New York City.
Searchers fought swift currents, dealt with visibility as low as one foot, and dodged debris dumped along the river bottom as they brought four more bodies on to boats. One was found in the fuselage of the helicopter, New Jersey State Police Sgt Stephen Jones said. Two bodies remained missing.
Nine people died in the collision, including three members of a Pennsylvania family in a private plane. They were named as pilot Steven Altman, 60, of Ambler, Pennsylvania; Daniel Altman, 49, of Dresher, Pennsylvania; and his 16-year-old son, Douglas.
The six people killed aboard the Liberty Tours helicopter were pilot New Zealander Jeremy Clark, 33, of Lanoka Harbor, New Jersey and five tourists from Bologna, Italy. They were named as Michele Norelli, 51; his son Filippo Norelli, 16; Fabio Gallazzi, 49; his wife, Tiziana Pedroni, 44; and their son Giacomo Gallazzi, 15.
National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Debbie Hersman said a nearby helicopter pilot saw the plane approaching the in-flight helicopter and tried to alert his fellow pilot. He radioed the doomed helicopter and said, “You have a fixed-wing behind you,” but there was no response from the pilot, Hersman said.
The pilot then saw the plane’s right wing clip the helicopter, and both aircraft split apart and fell into the river, she said.
A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers crane lifted the twisted wreckage of the helicopter from 30 feet of water. Nearby, a sonar scanner found the small plane wreckage, New York City police said. More plane wreckage was found farther out in the river under about 50 feet of water.
The plane, a Piper PA-32, was registered to LCA Partnership in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. The address is shared by a real estate company run by Steven Altman.
Liberty Tours runs sightseeing excursions around the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Manhattan at costs ranging from $130 to about $1,000.
Two years ago, a Liberty helicopter fell 500 feet from the sky during a sightseeing trip. The pilot was credited with safely landing the chopper in the Hudson and helping evacuate her seven passengers.