A helicopter crash-landed on the roof of a New York City skyscraper. Then the building shook

CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 6/11/2019, 3:27 p.m.
A typical afternoon inside the offices of a Midtown Manhattan skyscraper suddenly turned to chaos Monday when a helicopter, 11 ...
New York City police and firefighters arrive at the helicopter crash.

Fighting the fire

The helicopter took off from East 34th Street Heliport about 1:32 p.m. Monday, New York police Commissioner James O'Neill said, and it crashed about 11 minutes later.

At the time, moderate to heavy rain was falling in the city, and visibility at Central Park was down to 1.25 miles. Winds were from the east at 9 mph.

The pilot then flew around Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan, up the west side of the island and then, somewhere around the streets in the 40s, started to veer toward Midtown Manhattan before crash-landing, the law enforcement source said.

O'Neill could not say whether the pilot made an emergency call from the Agusta A109E helicopter.

The first firefighters were on the scene within five minutes, Thomas Richardson, chief of fire operations, told reporters. Firefighters climbed to the top of the 54-floor building to put out the three-alarm fire.

Lt. Adrienne Walsh, one of the fire department's first responders, described the roof scene as "a debris field that was on fire."

Mourning a pilot, a volunteer firefighter

McCormack had flown for American Continental Properties, the company that owns the helicopter, for five years, according to a company statement.

"We are mourning the loss of Tim McCormack," it said.

McCormack received his commercial pilot's license in 2004, according to Federal Aviation Administration records, and he was certified as a flight instructor for a rotorcraft-helicopter last year.

In October 2014, the pilot was flying a helicopter over the Hudson River with six tourists on board when a bird struck and broke part of the windshield, according to CNN affiliate WABC.

McCormack was forced to make an emergency landing at the West 30th Street Heliport. No one was injured, according to the report.

McCormack said at the time that it was "pretty much like an explosion going off in your cockpit."

His passengers started screaming and crying, the station reported.

"A little bit of pandemonium," he told the station, recalling the incident. "You kind of gather yourself, and we headed over till we landed at 30th Street."

McCormack had volunteered with the East Clinton Volunteer Fire Department since 1994 and was the department chief for 10 years, East Clinton Fire Department Chief Don Estes said. McCormack had also volunteered with the LaGrange Fire Department, according to Estes.

"Tim was a dedicated, highly professional and extremely well-trained firefighter," Estes said reading a statement. "Tim's technical knowledge and abilities to command an emergency were exceptional."

McCormack was respected by his department and other firefighters in Dutchess County, he said.

"Tim will be exceptionally missed by his department members, not only for his leadership but his wonderful sense of humor,' Estes said.

"Rest in Peace, brother."

The investigation

The National Transportation Safety Board released details Tuesday about its investigation, which could take as many as 24 months to finish, though investigators are aiming for 15 months. A preliminary report is expected in two weeks, but it will not provide a cause for the crash.