A NY Waterway ferry crew aboard the Gov. Thomas Kean on May 15 rescued the pilot after a helicopter crashed in the Hudson River.
SIU member Capt. Adam Sciaino was carrying passengers between West 39th Street in Manhattan and 14th Street in Hoboken when he saw the helicopter go down at about 2:20 p.m. This is Sciaino’s second rescue in 10 years with the company.
SIU member Deckhand Edwin Montoya deployed the Jason’s cradle rescue device off the bow of the ferry and pulled the uninjured pilot (Eric Morales) aboard. There was no one else on the helicopter.
“It was just instinct – just another day for NY Waterway rescues,” Sciaino said. “We’re right here. Edwin Montoya is an outstanding deckhand. He moved instantly to the rescue.” Both Seafarers have completed safety training at the union-affiliated Paul Hall Center in Piney Point, Maryland.
According to preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Morales had just refueled the helicopter and was trying to maneuver it to the pad where he picks up passengers when he felt “the loss of the effectiveness of the tail rotor.” Shortly thereafter, the aircraft started an uncontrollable spin, at which time the pilot deployed floats for a water landing.
News reports quoted Morales as saying the helicopter functioned normally earlier that day, including a pair of landings. Montoya recalled, “We were just leaving the Jersey side and saw the helicopter spinning, and then it went down in the water. The pilot was hanging outside of it, standing on it.”
The ferry was “very close” to the helicopter, and Montoya said they “approached very slowly and carefully. The whole thing only took three minutes. I asked him (the pilot) a couple of times if anyone else was on board and if he was hurt. He said he was okay and there was no one else. He was a little nervous but had good overall awareness.”
Montoya also said that the Gov. Thomas Kean had passengers on board during the rescue “so we kept people inside the boat. We did the rescue and then dropped off the passengers in New York and continued our service.”
In 32 years, NY Waterway crews have rescued almost 300 people from the waters of New York Harbor, including 143 people rescued from U.S. Airways Flight 1549 in “The Miracle on the Hudson,” the most successful marine rescue in aviation history.