Briton killed in US crash was on 40th birthday trip


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The Independent US

A British woman killed on a helicopter trip in New York on Tuesday was named yesterday as Sonia Marra, who had organised the visit to celebrate her 40th birthday.

The UK expatriate, who was living in Australia, was travelling with her partner, Helen Tamaki, 43, and her British mother and stepfather, Harriet and Paul Nicholson, when the helicopter plunged into New York's East River shortly after take-off.

According to reports, Ms Marra was trapped inside the helicopter as it sank about 50 feet (15 metres) below the surface of the swift-moving water.

Ms Tamaki, believed to be a New Zealander, and Mrs Nicholson, 60, were seriously injured in the crash and are in a critical condition in New York's Bellevue Hospital. The 56-year-old American pilot, Paul Dudley, and Mr Nicholson, 71, have since been released from hospital.

The helicopter was on a private tour when it crashed into the river at 3.20pm local time, shortly after lifting off from the busy 34th Street Heliport.

Witnesses said the helicopter was sputtering and appeared to be in mechanical distress before coming down in the river. A dozen boats and divers took part in a rescue effort before the passengers were pulled from the water.

Ms Marra had worked at Galluzzo's fruit market in Glebe, Sydney, for the last three months, according to the The Sydney Morning Herald.

Joe Galluzzo told the newspaper she was a "bubbly" woman who was full of life, and that Ms Tamaki had surprised Ms Marra with plans to go to New York for her 40th birthday.

"She will be so missed," Mr Galluzzo said. "She had a personality and a half."