Helicopter joyride ends in tragedy

British woman Sonia Marra celebrating her 40th birthday died after the helicopter that she hired for a private tour with her family crashed

A woman who died in the helicopter crash in New York's East River was identified as Sonia Marra of Sydney, Australia, and she died on her 40th birthday, authorities said.

Sonia Marra, a British citizen who lives in Australia, drowned when she was trapped inside a helicopter as it sank 50 feet beneath the surface.

New York City police search the East River after the commercial helicopter crashed killing one and injuring three others. Investigators will now examine the helicopter to determine why it crashed. Sonia Marra died after the chopper crashed into the river

New York Police Department divers pulled her from the water about 90 minutes after the Bell 206 Jet Ranger went down. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Four others, including the pilot and Marra's partner, her mother and stepfather, survived the crash and were rescued from the water and taken to hospital.
The two women were in a critical condition last night. The men were later released without injuries.

Rescue attempts
Emergency crews arrived within seconds of the crash to find the helicopter upside-down in the murky water with just its skids showing on the surface.
The pilot, Paul Dudley, and three passengers were bobbing in the water, and witnesses reported a man diving down, possibly in an attempt to rescue Marra.

Marra, her partner Helen Tomaski and her British mother and stepfather Harriet and Paul Nicholson, had hired the helicopter for a private tour of the city.

The Foreign Office  spokesman said, "We can confirm that three British nationals were involved in a helicopter crash in New York.
One of them has been killed. Next of kin has been informed and we are providing consular assistance to the family."

Mayor Bloomberg said it had been "a terrible accident" involving people who had come "to see the best of our city".

The helicopter apparently ran into trouble shortly after take off and was trying to return to the heliport when it went into the river off 34th Street in Manhattan.

Eyewitnesses Joy Garnett and her husband were on the dock waiting to take the East River ferry to Brooklyn when they heard the blades of a helicopter and saw it start to take off.

"I thought, 'Is that some daredevil move?'" she said. "But it was obviously out of control. The body spun around at least two or three times, and then it went down."

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