Multiple city officials said there was no immediate indication of a criminal reason for the hard landing
A helicopter crash-landed on the roof of a 54-story office building in midtown Manhattan Monday, sparking a fire and killing at least one person, authorities say.
A call about the incident at the AXA Equitable Center on Seventh Avenue and West 49th Street came in shortly before 2 p.m. The NYPD confirmed the hard landing on the roof of 787 Seventh Avenue; it wasn’t clear why the chopper would have tried to land there, nor was it clear who owned the chopper.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it was an Agusta A109E helicopter and a preliminary investigation indicated the pilot was the only person aboard. Air traffic controllers did not handle the flight, the FAA said, adding that the National Transportation Safety Board would lead the investigation. The NTSB said a short time earlier that it was aware of the situation and monitoring developments.
The hard landing and subsequent fire sent thick gray smoke billowing from the top of the towering building, which also houses offices for BNP Paribas, the French bank. The blaze was out within about 30 minutes. The city issued an emergency notification saying to expect road closures and the presence of emergency personnel at Seventh Avenue and West 51st Street.
Gov. Cuomo, who was in the area at the time, said from the scene that “at this point there is no indication” that the landing could be terror-related. Multiple city officials confirmed that as well. Weather was poor at the time. The FBI said it was responding as a precaution.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O’Neill were both reported to be on scene. President Donald Trump tweeted about the crash, thanking first responders and adding “(the) Trump Administration stands ready should you need anything at all.”
The building that was hit and neighboring buildings were evacuated as a precaution — at least one person tweeted that he or she felt a building shake — and video posted to social media showed people standing outside in the rain.
Wanda Tucker, who works in the building, tells News 4 she was on her way back from lunch when a co-worker asked if she felt the building shake. She said she didn’t — then seconds later, an announcement blasted over the loudspeakers advising everyone inside the building was being evacuated.
“We were a little anxious because the company that I work for, they were in the World Trade Center when we had that,” Tucker said, referencing the 9/11 terror attacks. “So it was like, real emotional. People just trying to get out of the building. I’m just happy to be out.”
Commonwealth Partners, which partially owns the building along with CalPERS, hung up when News 4 called for information. The high-rise was built in 1986.
There have been multiple incidents over the years with small aircraft hitting skyscrapers in Manhattan. In 2006, a plane carrying New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle hit a 40-story condominium tower on the Upper East Side.
In 1977, a helicopter crash on the roof of what was then the Pan Am Building killed five people.