March 11 (UPI) -- Five people were killed after a tourist helicopter crashed into Manhattan's East River Sunday evening with several people trapped inside.
New York City Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro said five passengers on board the helicopter were not able to free themselves once the aircraft went underwater. The pilot was the lone survivor after he was able to free himself.
"One of the most difficult parts of the rescue were that five people were tightly harnessed," Nigro told reporters Sunday. "People had to be cut out."
A bystander caught the incident on video, which shows the helicopter crashing into the water and submerging into the river as the blades keep spinning.
The New York Post reported that witnesses saw the pilot escape the helicopter as other passengers were trapped inside.
"There was about a minute where we didn't see anyone come out, then after a minute we saw a man come out holding onto a raft screaming, 'Help! help! Ah!' and then inaudible screams," witness Brianna Jesme said. "It was horrifying."
Xinran Jiang witnessed the crash from her bedroom window.
"It almost looked like it was landing," Jiang told The New York Times. "It wasn't moving fast. We were curious where it was going to land. Then the next minute, it was diving into the river."
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash.