The man at the controls of a helicopter that crashed onto the roof of a high-rise building in New York City on Monday afternoon died putting “other lives first,” his family said.
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The pilot, Tim McCormack, was the only person on board the privately-owned Agusta A109E chopper when he made a hard landing atop the AXA Equitable Building. The crash, which took place in a busy part of Midtown Manhattan, just blocks from Times Square, sparked a fire and caused fuel to leak from the aircraft, according to police and fire officials.
No one else was harmed.
“Our family lost a great man today when my brother lost his life doing his job,” the McCormack family said in a statement to ABC News on Monday night. “My brother Tim was a professional helicopter pilot who worked in private transit and was a flight instructor as well. He was a caring and compassionate man who put others first over himself. Tim died when in my opinion he put other lives first over his by using his skill as a pilot to emergency land his helicopter on a roof of a building so that it didn’t impact anyone else’s life except his own. My brother was a true hero.”
Shauna Farrell was in a meeting on the 36th floor at the time.
“We heard a loud whizzing sound of a motor and then we heard a crash and actually felt the crash as well,” she told ABC News in an interview Monday. “We ran down. I think we were the first floor to evacuate, actually, because we felt it so quickly.”
The hard landing was believed to be an accident and there’s no indication of terrorism, a senior official with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration told ABC News.
McCormack took off from the 34th Street heliport on the east side of Manhattan and was heading to Linden, New Jersey, according to police and fire officials. The hard landing occurred inside an area of Manhattan with flight restrictions that require pilots to get permission from air traffic control to enter. But McCormack was not in touch with air traffic control for this particular flight, FAA officials told ABC News.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters that investigators are looking into why the chopper was flying in the restricted airspace and if the pilot had permission to do so.
ABC News’ Jeff Cook, Aaron Katersky, Jenn Leong, Josh Margolin and Emily Shapiro contributed to this report.