Sad news from Bellevue Hospital: a second passenger who was critically injured in the October 4 East River helicopter crash has died. Helen Tamaki, who was visiting from Sydney, Australia, passed away from complications caused by suffering a lack of oxygen to her brain, hospital officials said. Her death was ruled an accident.
Tamaki's lifelong partner, Sonia Marra, was the first casualty in the crash—she died in the River after being trapped in the helicopter as it sank (it took rescuers 90 minutes to retrieve her body). Marra was celebrating her 40th birthday with a private sightseeing tour with Tamaki and Marra's mother, Harriet Nicholson, and Marra's step-father, Paul Nicholson. Harriet Nicholson was also taken to Bellevue in critical condition, and Paul Nicholson and pilot Paul Dudley escaped with minor injuries.
Yesterday, the National Transportation Safety Board announced that the helicopter had passed its inspection two days before the crash, and ruled out engine failure as a cause of the crash. They are now investigating possible weight and wind concerns, as well as the helicopter's reported vulnerability to rotor problems. A final report will not be issued for nine to 12 months.