Anna Sheffer
Updated Mar 12, 2018 @ 12:13 pm

Over the years, air travel has gotten progressively safer, and in 2017, there were zero deaths on commercial flights. But sadly, even though it has become very safe to fly, accidents still happen. Yesterday, March 11th, five people were killed in a helicopter crash in New York City’s East River. The tragic accident left many wondering why it happened, and although the exact cause is still being investigated, here’s what we know so far:

One passenger’s luggage may have caused the crash.

The pilot, Richard Vance, who was the only person on board to survive the crash, told investigators that one passenger’s suitcase may have hit a button cutting off the emergency fuel supply. He speculated that this may have caused the crash in part, but a team of 14 investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board is looking into the helicopter crash today, March 12th.

The pilot reported engine failure.

As the helicopter headed toward the river, Vance repeatedly called for help over the radio, reporting that he thought the engine had failed. The chopper flew by the Statue of Liberty and over the Brooklyn Bridge before its radio signal cut out and it landed in the water. Jeremy Conley, a flight instructor at Helicopter Flight Training Inc., told the New York Times that, in a video of the crash, the helicopter’s propellers appeared to be spinning on momentum alone instead of engine power.

The chopper was entirely submerged.

All five passengers died in the crash, which left the helicopter submerged and upside down. The passengers were reportedly fastened tightly into harnesses so that they could take pictures with the helicopter’s doors open.

The East River helicopter crash is a terrible tragedy, and our hearts go out to the passengers’ loved ones. We hope that the cause of this accident is discovered soon and that other air travel accidents can be prevented.