Husband's fears for copter crash wife

By James HoreTHE husband of a woman who almost died in a helicopter crash has spoken about the "nightmare" of their ill-fated trip. Gary Rugless and his wife, Karen Butler, from Chelmsford, were both on board the pleasure flight in Manhattan when it crashed into East River on Tuesday.

By James Hore

THE husband of a woman who almost died in a helicopter crash has spoken about the "nightmare" of their ill-fated trip.

Gary Rugless and his wife, Karen Butler, from Chelmsford, were both on board the pleasure flight in Manhattan when it crashed into East River on Tuesday.

The helicopter had only just taken off from Pier 11 when it overturned and plunged into the water.


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Ms Butler, who had been celebrating her 40th birthday, was trapped underwater and swallowed a dose of aviation fuel.

She remained in hospital in New York yesterday, but doctors said her condition was now serious, rather than critical.

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Speaking to the New York Post, Mr Rugless said he thought he was going to drown when the helicopter plunged into the river.

"It was a nightmare. It could have been worse, but it was awful, terrible. They tell me she is going to pull through," he added.

Mr Rugless said he had panicked when he and his wife – who cannot swim – had been plunged into the cold and dark water, and he had been unable to find her.

"I thought I was going to drown. I was under the water and I could not get out. We were upside down," he added.

Mr Rugless also hailed the pilot, Yossi Ben-Bassat, a hero for diving in to pull Ms Butler to safety after several minutes underwater.

After the accident Mr Rugless' mother Christine Headland, who lives in Harlow, revealed fears she had before the trip.

She said: "I couldn't believe what had happened because before they left for New York on Saturday I had a gut feeling something was going to go wrong.

"I kept texting them on the way to the airport and when they got there, but I thought once they had arrived everything would be okay."

She was due to fly out to America yesterday with Ms Butler's sister, Diane, to comfort her son and daughter in-law.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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