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Pilot Killed In NYC Crash Was Respected Ex-Fire Chief From Hudson Valley

Tim McCormack
Tim McCormack Photo Credit: Tim McCormack

The helicopter pilot killed in a midtown Manhattan crash-landing Monday afternoon was conducting executive travel and headed back to a New Jersey airport, reports say.

Tim McCormack, a volunteer firefighter from Clinton Corners in Dutchess County in New York's Hudson Valley,  had taken off around 1:30 p.m. from the 34th Street heliport on the east side where he dropped his boss off and was en route to Linden Airport -- the Agusta A109E's home base -- before the crash, officials said.

Investigators believe that McCormack -- who received his instructor certificate for “Rotorcraft-Helicopter” last June -- may have gotten lost in the foggy conditions, and contacted the West 30th Street heliport to say he was experiencing a problem and needed to land there, the New York Post reports.

The pilot was in the air for 11 minutes before he crash-landed at the top of the 54-floor AXA Equitable Center on 7th Avenue, at 1:45 p.m.

McCormack has been a firefighter with the Clinton Volunteer Fire Department since 1994, serving as chief for 10 year.  He previously was a firefighter in LaGrange.

"Tim was a dedicated, highly professional and extremely well trained firefighter," CVFD said in a statement.

"Tim's technical knowledge and ability to command an emergency were exceptional. Chief McCormack was extremely respected by not only the members of the department, but throughout the Dutchess County fire service.

"Tim will be exceptionally missed by this department's members, not only for his leadership but for his wonderful sense of humor."

Tim McCormack served as chief of the Clinton Volunteer Fire Department for 10 years.

American Continental Properties Inc, the company the helicopter is registered to, remembered McCormack -- whose father and grandfather were firefighters in Poughkeepsie -- in a statement to ABC News.

"We are mourning the loss of Tim McCormack who has flown for us for the past five years," ACP Inc. said. "Our hearts are with his family and friends."

No other injuries were reported in the crash, which resulted in a two-alarm fire and fuel leak.

A 10-year BCP Paribas employee from Hillsdale, New Jersey who works in the AXA Equitable Center building was on the 9th floor when the incident occurred.

"The floor literally moved beneath me," she said.

The next thing she knew, everyone was being told through loudspeakers to evacuate.

Evacuees were stuck on the stairs for more than 20 minutes because the elevators were shut down, the Hillsdale woman said.

Outside, she could see smoke on top of the building.

"It was mayhem. We didn't know what was going on," she said. "You automatically think 9/11."

Employees were told they won't be returning at least until Wednesday.

Meanwhile, 8th Avenue pedestrian and vehicular traffic closures from 42nd Street to 57th Street temporarily remained in place. Sixth Avenue was open.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo initially briefed reporters.

“There was a helicopter that made a forced landing or an emergency landing ... on the roof of the building for one reason or the other,” he said. "People in the building said they felt the building shake. It was a hard landing.”

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