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Helicopter crashes into East River in NY

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"The pilot did indicate that there was somebody still in the helicopter," Lt. Larry Serras said. "By the time we swam to the helicopter it was completely submerged."

Officer Jason Gregory, one of the divers who brought the woman's body to the surface, said the helicopter was upside down in the sediment. He said the woman was in the back seat and wasn't buckled in by any seat belt.

The helicopter was from Linden, N.J., near the Statue of Liberty and the Newark, N.J., international airport and a popular base and refueling stop for helicopters operating in New York. The pilot apparently reported problems in the helicopter and said he was turning around, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Paul Dudley is a commercial pilot and owns Linden Airport Services, the company that manages the Linden municipal airport under a 20-year contract with the city, Linden Mayor Richard Gerbounka said.

"He flies light aircraft, he flies helicopters," Gerbounka said. "He's an accomplished pilot."

In November 2006, Dudley landed a Cessna 172 light plane in a park near Coney Island in Brooklyn after the engine failed. No one was hurt during the emergency landing, and the plane was taken back to Linden after mechanics removed the wings.

The National Transportation Safety Board was on scene Tuesday, and crews pulled the wreckage from the water about four hours after it went down. The chopper would be taken to the police department's Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. The airport in Linden was locked down briefly pending the arrival of Federal Aviation Administration and NTSB investigators.

The Bell 206 Jet Ranger is one of the world's most popular helicopter models and was first flown in January 1966. They are light and highly maneuverable, making them popular with television stations and air taxi companies. A new one costs between $700,000 and $1.2 million.

On Tuesday, Bloomberg praised a coordinated emergency response. Witnesses said the crash happened quickly. Carlos Acevedo, of Puerto Rico, was with his wife at a nearby park area when they saw the helicopter go down.

"It sank fast," he said. "In seconds. Like the water was sucking it in."

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