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Helicopter crash into New York river claims third life

November 7, 2011 |  6:43 am

  An Oct. 4 helicopter crash into the East River in New York has claimed a third victim
An October helicopter crash in the East River off midtown Manhattan has claimed a third life: a tourist whose daughter was also killed in the crash.

Harriet Nicholson, 60, who had been hospitalized since the Oct. 4 crash, died Sunday of injuries suffered in the incident. She was pulled unconscious from the water shortly after the chopper went down during what was to have been a sightseeing trip to celebrate her daughter's 40th birthday.

Her daughter, Sonia Marra, was trapped in the aircraft when it sank and was dead when divers found her about 45 minutes later.

Marra's partner, Helen Tamaki, died a week after the crash of her injuries. Only the pilot, who was a family friend, and Marra's stepfather survived. Tamaki and Marra had traveled from their home in Australia for Marra's birthday celebration. Marra's mother and her stepfather, British citizens, had come from their home in Portugal.

The cause of the crash has not been determined and is not expected to be known for months. In a preliminary report released last month, the National Transportation Safety Board noted that the Bell 206 aircraft had undergone an annual inspection shortly before the crash. The inspection would have required mechanics to disassemble much of the helicopter to check for rust and corrosion.

Scores of witnesses standing at a nearby ferry landing watched as the helicopter lifted off, then began to spin out of control. It veered over the water before plunging downward, they said.


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-- Tina Susman in New York

Photo: A helicopter that crashed into the East River is raised from the water on Oct. 4. Credit: Kena Betancur / Reuters