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Report: Victim in New York chopper crash dies on her birthday

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 4:57 AM EDT, Wed October 5, 2011
Rescuers pull people out of the East River after a helicopter crashed into the New York waterway.
Rescuers pull people out of the East River after a helicopter crashed into the New York waterway.
  • The victim was traveling with family members
  • The pilot radioed ahead about problems with the aircraft
  • Sonia Marra got trapped in the helicopter, mayor says

New York (CNN) -- A woman who died in a helicopter crash in New York's East River was identified by authorities as Sonia Marra of Sydney, Australia and died on her 40 birtthday, authorities said Wednesday.

Marra was the only passenger who died after Tuesday's crash in the river near midtown Manhattan, New York police said.

Marra, who is also a British citizen, was traveling with a friend her mother, stepfather when the chopper went down, CNN affiliate WABC reported.

The other were injured but Marra got trapped in the backseat of the Bell 206 chopper and was the sole passenger unable to escape the craft as it inverted and sank, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Helicopter crashes in New York river
Helicopter crashes into East River

As the chopper approached for a helipad landing, the pilot radioed that he was having problems, just moments before the craft crashed into the river, the mayor said.

Images broadcast on CNN affiliate WCBS soon after the crash showed at least three people being towed to shore in a rescue effort.

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat who represents Manhattan's East Side in Congress, said in a statement she was "saddened and deeply concerned" about the crash.

"There have been at least 28 helicopter crashes in our city over the last three decades," Maloney said. "Federal transportation officials should investigate not only the causes of this crash, but also whether it is safe to have such a high volume of helicopter traffic over our densely populated city."

Had the crash occurred over land, the death toll could have been much higher, she said.

CNN's Jason Kessler, Eden Pontz and Rob Frehse contributed to this report.