That afternoon, a piece of a passenger restraint system became tangled in the helicopter’s cockpit fuel shutoff valve, flaming out the engine and forcing the helicopter down into the East River. Just before the helicopter struck the water, the pilot activated the emergency floats designed to stabilize the machine once it settled on the water. On this flight however, the inflation system malfunctioned and only the left float fully inflated. Because of the imbalance, the helicopter flipped over in the water, submerging the cabin. The pilot managed to escape, but none of the helicopter’s five passengers were so lucky. All drowned after being unable to free themselves of their primary seatbelts and the supplementary restraints.