DALLAS – A Dallas Fire-Rescue firefighter was among the five people killed in a helicopter crash in New York City’s East River Sunday night, the fire department confirmed.
Brian McDaniel, a two-year veteran of DFR who was assigned to Station 36, was in New York, visiting close high school friend Trevor Cadigan over the weekend, when the two boarded a Eurocopter AS350 hired for a private photo shoot Sunday evening.
The helicopter was carrying the pilot and five passengers when it crashed into the East River and capsized just after 7 p.m. Eastern Time.
McDaniel, 26, worked the “C-shift” at DFR Station 36 in West Dallas. He graduated from Bishop Lynch High School, where he was part of the cycling, baseball and football teams, in 2010.
“Hearts are heavy with grief as we not only try to come to grips with his loss departmentally; but to also be there in every way that we can for his family,” Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans said in a statement.
News 8 traffic reporter Lauren Nevitt was good friends with both Cadigan and McDaniel, and was in the same graduating class at Bishop Lynch. She saw McDaniel just last week at the grocery store, when McDaniel told her how excited he was for his trip to New York and how much he loved being a firefighter.
"I had no idea that would be the last time I saw Brian, that's for sure. We had talked about, once he got back from his trip, meeting up for beers and just catching up," said Nevitt.
Andrew Vidales, McDaniel's cycling coach at Bishop Lynch, said McDaniel "always had a smile on his face, very talkative and very optimistic."
"It's hard to grasp everything that happened, knowing how vibrant Brian was," Vidales said.
Vidales said McDaniel was like a son to him, and was his own son's best friend. McDaniel would stop by the house from time to time for advice, even after he graduated.
"Just crushed, crushed, it's tough when you lose your children," said Vidales.
Also killed in the crash was Cadigan, a former WFAA intern and the son of longtime WFAA Production Manager Jerry Cadigan. Trevor and McDaniel became friends as students at Bishop Lynch. Cadigan was a graduate of SMU.
He had been working as a video journalist for Business Insider in New York since October.
Authorities identified the other victims as Daniel Thompson, 34, Tristian Hill, 29, and Carla Vallejos Blanco, 29.