SINGAPORE — Daniel Mun was in his 38th-floor office in Manhattan, New York, when he heard a “loud, plane-like engine noise” outside the window.
“I didn’t see the chopper but could feel it go by. It rattled my office window,” said the 37-year-old Singaporean lawyer, referring to the helicopter that crashed into the roof of the AXA Equitable Center building on Monday afternoon (11 June, Singapore time).
“When I heard the airplane noise I thought to myself: that’s it,” he told Yahoo News Singapore.
There were no passengers in the helicopter when it hit the 54-storey skyscraper. The American pilot on board is believed to be the only casualty in the incident.
Media reports said the helicopter was on an “erratic” flight path over New York City – one of the world’s most highly restricted airspaces – before it went down.
‘Serious 9/11 vibes’
Following the crash, Mun said a public announcement said that the building was being evacuated and advised those inside it to leave quickly.
He grabbed his things and proceeded to the elevator but was told to take the stairs. After making it down 10 flights of stairs, he found that the staircase was filled with other evacuees as people had crowded the building’s lobby and were not dispersing.
Fortunately, a fire marshal directed people in the stairwell to a functioning elevator on the 29th floor.
“I wouldn’t say people were panicking, but there was definitely a lot of tension. I mean, some serious 9/11 vibes,” he said, referring to the 2001 terror attacks in which hijackers flew planes into the city’s World Trade Center Towers.
While the episode was reported to have triggered memories of “September 11” for some people, city authorities said they do not believe it was an act of terrorism.
After making it out of the building, Mun saw “tons of fire engines and cops” around but could not see much more due to the rain.
“I called my wife to tell her I was okay and got out of the area quickly because I wasn’t sure if there was going to be any debris (falling) or explosions,” he said.
When asked how he felt during the incident, Mun said he was not afraid at first but became more anxious as the evacuation proceeded.
“When I got stuck in the stairwell, I was more worried because we were about 28 flights up and it wasn’t moving.
“I think that’s when I actually started feeling afraid. That’s when the reality started to sink in – particularly because we didn’t have any info on what had happened at the time,” he said.
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