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Smiling for a selfie before five die in helicopter horror

Moments before: Trevor Cadigan (right) and his final Instagram post

HELICOPTER passengers pose for a selfie moments before it crashed into a New York river — killing five people.

Videojournalist Trevor Cadigan, 26, uploaded the photo to Instagram before he and his four fellow passengers all died in the city’s East River.

Within minutes, the AS350 Eurocopter belonging to tour operator Liberty Helicopters dropped into the freezing waters, with only the pilot Richard Vance, 33, getting out alive.

Wreckage: The helicopter is pulled from the water PICTURE: EPA

The passengers were about to take part in a photoshoot, which aimed to have them hanging from safety harnesses while posing upside-down.

The helicopter had taken off from Kearny in New Jersey and crashed 11 minutes later. A witness on the shore filmed the moment it hit the water before capsizing.

In an emergency radio transmission, Mr Vance was heard saying the engine had failed.

He told investigators a passenger’s bag may have accidentally activated the helicopter’s emergency fuel shut-off switch, CNN and local television station NY1 reported.

Mr Vance freed himself from the wreckage and was brought to shore in a tugboat but emergency divers had to cut the dead passengers from their harnesses after the accident on Sunday. The fire commissioner for New York City, Daniel Nigro, said: ‘It took a while for the divers to get these people out.

Trip to New York: Carla Vallejos Blanco was among the dead

‘They worked as fast as they could. It was a great tragedy that we had here.’ Those who died were Mr Cadigan and firefighter Brian McDaniel, also 26 and from Dallas; tourist Carla Vallejos Blanco from Argentina; and Liberty employees Tristan Hill and Daniel Thompson.

Liberty was involved in a 2009 crash on the Hudson River that killed nine people. It said it was co-operating with investigators while ‘supporting the families affected by this tragic accident’.