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NEW YORK (CBSMiami) – Five of the six people onboard a helicopter that crashed into New York City’s East River have died and an investigation is underway into the cause of the crash.

Monday afternoon, we learned more about what may have caused Sunday night’s deadly helicopter crash.

Crews removed the helicopter as investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board try to figure out what caused it.

Cell phone video shows the moment the helicopter slammed into the water, moments after the pilot radioed for help.

“May Day, May Day, May Day, East River engine failure,” the captain is heard saying over the radio.

The pilot –identified as Richard Vance — escaped and could later be seen walking to an ambulance but the five passengers on board were all killed.

“The five people, besides the pilot, were all tightly harnessed so these harnesses had to be cut and removed in order to get these folks off of this helicopter which was upside down at the time and completely submerged,” said NYC Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro.

As investigators look over the wreckage, CBS News has learned the pilot told police he saw a tether from a front passenger’s harness wrapped around the fuel shut off lever which accidentally cut off the fuel supply to the engine.

Once the fuel supply was cut off, the pilot said the engine could not be restarted. That is when the helicopter went down.

Among the victims – 26-year-old Trevor Cadigan who posted video of the flight to his Instagram account. Also on board was 26-year-old Brian McDaniel – a Dallas, Texas fire-rescue officer who was in New York on vacation and 29-year-old Carla Vallejos Blanco from Argentina.

The NTSB says it is taking the helicopter to a secure facility for further examination.

The aircraft was owned by Liberty Helicopters, a New Jersey-based company. One of its choppers was involved in a deadly midair collision with a small private plane over the Hudson River in 2009, killing 9 people.


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