2005_06_chopper2.jpgAll eight passengers aboard the second helicopter to crash into the East River last week were rescued and seem in good condition, save for the pilot who was in critical but stable condition. The helicopter, filled with six executives from credit card company MBNA, was headed back to Wilmington, Delaware after a day of business in the city, but the chopper only managed to go about a block north of the 34th Street heliport before smoke started to emerge from the engine. The chopper went into a tailspin and everyone aboard jumped out, but the East River's current was difficult for them to swim effectively. Passers by on land and sea helped rescue them: Two N.J. men, Joe Curvino and Charlie Stamm, on a fishing boat rescued three men (with Curvino saying, "We pulled in six bass, four blue fish and three humans") and Fresh Direct deliveryman Miguel Lopez rescued two others before heading back to work. The helicopter sunk into the river and was only pulled out later Friday evening, and the initial inspection shows no apparent signs of a mechnical problem. A few politicians and city officials have suggested helicopter safety be examined.

People seemed unruffled, and even jokingly calling in their last will and testament from lines. One man who had just been on a helicopter tour of the city told the NY Times, "You know, it's like crossing the street. Actually, crossing the street is more dangerous." The Daily News named Lopez their "Hero of the Month" rewarded him as well as Curvino and Stamm with tickets to see the Yankees beat the Cubs yesterday.