Helicopter crashes onto roof of New York City high rise

Helicopter crashes onto roof of New York City high rise

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A helicopter crashed into a building on 7th Avenue, halting traffic on nearby streets in the heart of Midtown Manhattan.
USA TODAY

NEW YORK – A helicopter crashed into a building on 7th Avenue on Monday, killing the pilot, starting a fire and halting traffic on nearby streets in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, the city Fire Department said. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said preliminary information indicated the helicopter made an emergency landing on the building. He said he did not know why.

“There was a fire when the helicopter hit the roof,” he said. “We believe the fire is under control.

“Most importantly, (there is) no evidence that it was anything other than an aircraft accident, an aircraft emergency landing, etc.” he said.

The crash onto the roof of the AXA Equitable building drew a major police and fire response to the area not far from Times Square and Rockefeller Center. Streets around the crash site were closed on a gray, rainy day in the city.

Cuomo said no one in the building was injured. 

“People who were in the building felt the building shake,” Cuomo said. “Many of the people in the building voluntarily left, but there was no official evacuation of the building.”

A flight restriction in effect since President Donald Trump took office bans aircraft from the area. Aircraft are not to fly below 3,000 feet and within a 1-mile radius of Trump Tower, which is just a few blocks from the crash site.

Franklin Acosta said he was in his 38th floor office at the William Lea outsourcing company when he heard what sounded like a small airplane passing by.

“Then it stopped, and the building shook,” Acosta said. “I didn’t wait. I told my people to come down and get out of the building.”

Jacqueline Fajardo was at work in the 42nd floor offices of the Willkie Farr & Gallagher law firm when the crash happened.

“Suddenly, I heard an explosion — boom,” Fajardo said. “And then the whole building shook. I could tell it was right nearby.”

She said the frightening tragedy reminded her of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That day, Fajardo said she was working at 1 Financial Center, near the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

“When I hear an explosion like this, it makes me think of that day. You don’t forget.”

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Pedro Rodriguez, a pastry line cook at Le Bernardin, a popular restaurant in the building, said workers got an announcement telling everyone to leave. He said he later heard there was a fire on the roof. The evacuation was orderly, but people’s nerves were still rattled, he said.

“It’s scary when something like this happens,” he said. 

Cuomo said police and fire officials were still obtaining information on the crash. There was no immediate indication of terrorism, he said.

“If you are a New Yorker you have a level of PTSD from 9/11” Cuomo said. “I remember that morning all too well.”

President Donald Trump tweeted that he had been briefed on the crash and was monitoring events.

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“Phenomenal job by our GREAT First Responders who are currently on the scene,” he tweeted. “THANK YOU for all you do 24/7/365! The Trump Administration stands ready should you need anything at all.”

Bacon reported from McLean, Va. Contributing: Elizabeth Lawrence and Joseph Spector, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

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