East River chopper crash kills 1; 4 rescued

NEW YORK - A private helicopter with five people aboard crashed into the East River on Tuesday afternoon after taking off from a launch pad on the riverbank, killing one passenger and injuring three others.

Police say five people, including the pilot, were in the Bell 206 helicopter when it went down around 3 p.m. Rescue crews pulled the pilot and three of the victims, who have been hospitalized, from the East River.

New York Police Department divers pulled the fourth passenger, a woman, from about 50 feet of water about an hour and a half after the crash. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Officials say the pilot, identified as Paul Dudley swam to safety and was uninjured.

According to Linden, N.J. Mayor Richard Gerbounka, Dudley is a commercial pilot and owns Linden Airport Services. Authorities say Dudley landed a Cessna 172 light plane in 2006 in a park near Coney Island in Brooklyn after the engine failed. No one was hurt during the emergency landing.

Mayor Bloomberg said two of the passengers were believed to be British living in Portugal, and the other two lived in Australia.

Officials say two of the survivors are in critical condition, the other in stable condition.

Recovery workers raised the helicopter out of the East River.

Officials are investigating the cause of the crash.

AP wire services contributed to this report.

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