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Victims of East River helicopter crash remembered by friends, colleagues

“I just have no words to say,” Karen McDaniel, mother of Brian McDaniel, said.

The five victims who died after the chartered helicopter they were on crashed Sunday night into the East River included a Dallas firefighter, a video journalist and an Argentine tourist.

The NYPD on Monday identified the passengers as Brian McDaniel, 26; Trevor Cadigan, 26; Carla Vallejos Blanco, 29; Tristan Hill, 29; and Daniel Thompson, 34.

The pilot of the Liberty Helicopters tour craft, identified as Richard Vance, 33, was the lone survivor. He was treated at a hospital and released, officials said.

McDaniel and Cadigan graduated in 2010 from Bishop Lynch High School in Dallas, the school confirmed in a tweet.

McDaniel worked as a firefighter at the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department, the department said. He was visiting Cadigan for the weekend, published reports said.

Cadigan was a video journalist with Business Insider in Manhattan, the publication said. Moments before the crash, Cadigan posted images on his Instagram page from the helicopter. McDaniel is seen giving a thumbs-up sign behind him.

In a brief interview Monday, Karen McDaniel confirmed the crash killed her son but otherwise declined to comment. “I just have no words to say,” McDaniel said, adding that she had just landed in New York.

In a statement, Dallas Fire-Rescue said McDaniel had been with the department for two years.

“Despite his short tenure, 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,” the department said.

Cadigan was a 2016 graduate of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where he received a bachelor’s degree in journalism with minors in Chinese and business administration, according to the university.

Cadigan started as an intern at WFAA, an ABC television affiliate in Dallas, where his father, Jerry Cadigan, is a production manager, according to the station.

“The entire WFAA family is heartbroken by the sudden and tragic loss of Trevor Cadigan,” Brad Ramsey, the station’s president and general manager, said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of Trevor’s family and friends, and with the families of all of the victims of yesterday’s tragic accident.”

WFAA employees have created a GoFundMe page to assist the family with travel and funeral expenses. By Monday evening it raised more than $14,200.

Cadigan worked for more than a year at GuideLive, the entertainment website for The Dallas Morning News, the station said.

He started at Business Insider in October, first as an intern and more recently as a producer with “The Bottom Line,” a weekly business news program that streams on the company’s social media accounts.

“I am excited to shape the future of journalism,” Cadigan wrote on his personal website. “I am dedicated to presenting a fair and accurate account of the news and to incorporating new technology to actively engage a reader or viewer.”

Business Insider spokesman Mario Ruiz called Cadigan a “smart, talented, and ambitious young journalist and producer who was well-liked and made a big contribution.”

Blanco was an Argentine tourist who was visiting New York with a friend, according to the Argentine Consulate in New York.

“She was here for about a couple of weeks,” said a consulate spokeswoman, adding that Vallejos-Blanco’s family was notified of the accident.

Vallejos-Blanco had been in New York City for about a week and went on the helicopter for a photography-focused tour, according to Clarín, a newspaper in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Hill grew up in Reno, Nevada. He graduated from Galena High School in 2007, where he played basketball, and Missouri Valley College five years later, according to his LinkedIn page. He volunteered as a basketball coach at his high school and at a summer camp in Nevada, said Galena Principal Tom Brown.

“He was a very well-known student in the community. He was a very good young man,” Brown said. “The staff that were here [when he attended], they were very emotional. He was close to everyone who worked here.”

In 2014, Hill interned for Rep. Michael Turner, a Republican from Ohio.

“Tristan’s personality, intellect and constant smile were always on display when he worked with us,” Turner said in a statement. “I was deeply saddened to learn of his passing and my prayers go out to his family. The joy and happiness that he brought to all of us will not be forgotten.”

One of Hill’s first jobs in New York was a basketball operations assistant for the New York Knicks’ Westchester developmental league team during the 2015-16 season, according to the Madison Square Garden Company.

“Tristan was an incredible colleague, teammate and friend. He will be remembered by the staff and players as someone who brightened every room he entered, with a contagious smile and an unparalleled enthusiasm for life,” the team said in a statement.

Hill began working as the director of operations for Sightsy, a travel and tour company, in October, according to his LinkedIn page. He was slated to marry Eda Ozmen, a yoga instructor who lives in Manhattan, in May, according to a Knot.com site for their wedding.

Two NYC & Company representatives confirmed that Thompson, who lived in New York, worked with them as an information specialist at their visitor centers from August until December 2014. He then went to work for Sightsy, they said.

With Victor Ramos

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