Authorities identify pilot killed in helicopter crash on South Brunswick-Princeton border
Authorities have identified the helicopter pilot killed when the aircraft crashed into a river on the border of South Brunswick and Princeton Thursday afternoon.
The pilot was identified as 44-year-old Josef Yitzhak, of Israel. He was pronounced dead at the scene following the crash.
National Transportation Safety Board officials say Yitzhak was a seasoned pilot who was training to get additional qualifications. They say something was wrong with the helicopter before it hit the canal. That area of the river is just about five feet deep.
South Brunswick Fire Captain Chuck Pisano was one of the first on the scene.
"I ran into our radio room and said I saw a helicopter fall out of the sky and of course, in firemen fashion, they thought I was joking,” Pisano says.
Photographer Beverly Tereshko was near the canal taking pictures Thursday right before the crash. She says she saw the helicopter spiraling out of control and captured some photos that are now a part of the investigation.
"It just was spinning. It was spinning in like a tailspin…The wind was pretty bad yesterday, so I don’t know if that contributed to it but hopefully, the pictures will help with the investigation,” Tereshko says.
NTSB officials held a news conference Friday afternoon to speak about the preliminary investigation. They said that a complete investigation could take months.
"The main rotor blade struck the tail boom. The helicopter was at an unusual attitude at the time. The rotor blade struck the tail boom, severing the rotor blade into three separate pieces and then the rotor blade also struck the canopy ahead of him,” said NTSB safety investigator Aaron McCarter.
A salvage team is expected to come to the scene to figure out how to remove the helicopter from the water.
Yizhak’s body is being flown back to Israel. Funeral services are expected to take place on Sunday.