Helicopter crashes on roof of NYC skyscraper; pilot killed

NEW YORK — A helicopter crash-landed on the roof of a midtown Manhattan skyscraper Monday, killing the pilot and briefly unnerving the city.

The crash happened at around 2 p.m. in a steady rain and clouds that obscured the roof of the 750-foot (229-meter) AXA Equitable building.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who spoke to reporters at the scene about 20 minutes after the crash, said the impact shook the building and caused a fire that was quickly brought under control. There were no other reports of injuries.

The crash, close to both Rockefeller Center and Times Square, sent rescue vehicles swarming to the building and immediately evoked memories of the Sept. 11 attacks, though officials said there were no indications it was related to terrorism.

"If you're a New Yorker, you have a level of PTSD, right, from 9/11. And I remember that morning all too well. So as soon as you hear an aircraft hit a building, I think my mind goes where every New Yorker's mind goes," Cuomo said.

The real estate company that used the helicopter confirmed that the pilot was Tim McCormack, of Clinton Corners, New York.

American Continental Properties said McCormack had flown for the company for the past five years.

It said in a statement that "our hearts are with his family and friends."

McCormack was formerly a volunteer fire chief for the East Clinton Fire District.

FAA records said he had been certified in 2004 to fly helicopters and single-engine airplanes. He was certified as a flight instructor last year.

Authorities say the helicopter was being used for executive travel.

 

The building where a helicopter crash-landed on top is seen in midtown Manhattan in New York on June 10, 2019. (Photo: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)

Videos posted by onlookers showed emergency vehicles in the street, but no obvious damage to the skyscraper.

Pedro Rodriguez, a pastry line cook at Le Bernardin, a well-known restaurant in the building, said workers got an announcement telling everyone to exit, and he later heard from people around him that there was a fire on the roof.

The evacuation wasn't chaotic, Rodriguez said, but he was rattled because he immediately thought of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"It's scary when something like this happens," he said.

Alex Jacobs was working on the seventh floor when he heard bells and an announcement to evacuate. He and his colleagues — who hadn't heard or felt an impact — used stairs to a fire exit. "It's really unfortunate. I Just hope everyone's OK," he said.

New York City has a history of both minor and major helicopter wrecks and crash landings.

Last month, a helicopter crash landed in the Hudson River near a busy Manhattan heliport. The pilot escaped mostly unscathed.

Five people died when a sightseeing helicopter crashed into the East River last year. Three people died in another crash into the same river in 2011. Nine people died in a collision between a sightseeing helicopter and a small plane in 2009, not far from the scene of Monday's mishap.

Police officers and Firemen talk near the building entrance where a helicopter crash-landed in midtown Manhattan in New York on June 10, 2019. (Photo: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)

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