No one answered an email Monday to Vance, 33, a licensed commercial pilot for seven years who's also licensed as a flight instructor.
A federal official tells The Associated Press that the pilot who survived the crash told investigators he believed a passenger's bag might have hit an emergency fuel shutoff switch in the moments before the chopper went down.
He made a mayday call to LaGuardia Airport saying that the aircraft experienced engine failure.
Aviation lawyer Gary Robb said the lever Vance referenced, which is is usually on the floor next to the pilot's seat in that type of helicopter, needs to be pulled up and back down to be activated - it's not enough to accidentally pull it.
"It took a while for the divers to get these people out".
"We always say once a Bulldog always a Bulldog and I think that's very true", said the professor.
It is now confirmed that all 5 passengers in the chopper have died.
Brian McDaniel, an officer with Dallas Fire-Rescue.
His friend McDaniel, also 26, was on a trip to visit his longtime friend.The two both attended Bishop Lynch High School together.
A video posted online appeared to show the red helicopter descending into the water, its spinning blades chopping the river as it tipped over. McDaniel flashed a thumbs up.
Investgators from the US National Transport Safety Board are expected on the scene early on Monday. "We will not be determining probable cause or speculate what may have caused this accident".
NTSB Go Team, led by Board Member Bella Dinh-Zarr, are enroute to NYC for investigation of March 11, 2018, helicopter crash in East River.
Witnesses on a nearby waterfront esplanade said the helicopter was flying noisily, then suddenly dropped and quickly submerged. He was rescued by a tugboat.
"It was sinking really fast", witness Mary Lee, 66, told the New York Post. By the time we got out here, we couldn't see it. "It was under water".
Five people and the pilot were on a Liberty Helicopters aircraft chartered for a private photo shoot.
Liberty said in a statement that it was focused on supporting victims' families and cooperating with federal authorities.
Pennsylvania-based photojournalist Eric Adams told Vertical that the accident flight was operated on behalf of FlyNYON, a company that offers doors-off helicopter photo flights to professional photographers as well as amateurs who just "want to snap a signature shoe selfie" on their iPhone, according to the company's website.
In 2009 a Liberty helicopter collided with a plane over the Hudson River.