A chartered helicopter carrying professional wrestler Shane McMahon — son of WWE CEO Vince McMahon — and a pilot made an emergency landing Wednesday morning in the waters off Gilgo Beach, police said.
McMahon, whose mother, Linda McMahon, is head of the Small Business Administration in the Trump administration, and the pilot, identified as Mario Regtien, were not injured.
“The pilot just said he could tell something was wrong and immediately took procedures to do a controlled landing,” said Chief Boatswain’s Mate Justin Shackleford of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Fire Island station.
Suffolk County Assistant Police Commissioner Justin Meyers said the “small helicopter” landed about a half mile south of the beach and Suffolk, Nassau and NYPD authorities responded to the scene.
McMahon, known for performing dangerous stunts as a wrestler, said during a news conference that the incident was “unsettling,” according to News 12 Long Island video.
“All of a sudden, you know, you have something happen and you hear a bang and then you start to say we’re going to do an emergency landing in the water,” McMahon, 47, said. “So, yes, it’s very unnerving, but again, Mario was super calm, which made me super calm, and we landed perfectly.”
He later in a tweet thanked the pilot, the Suffolk Police Marine Bureau and the Coast Guard.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the Robinson R44 helicopter, which had departed from Westchester County Airport, wound up in the Atlantic Ocean about 10:25 a.m. and “emergency responders picked up the two people who were aboard and ferried them to shore.”
The pilot told News 12 the helicopter was heading to Westhampton when it experienced trouble just south of Long Island MacArthur Airport.
The FAA said in a statement that the pilot “issued a Mayday call prior to going into the water,” and that a commercial flight heading to Kennedy Airport heard the call and relayed it to controllers at the FAA radar facility in Westbury.
The company that owns the helicopter, Awesome Flight of Westchester County, confirmed in a prepared statement that it was a “controlled landing.”
Two lifeguards at Gilgo Beach said they were the first to reach the helicopter. Don Dobby and Zak Viverito went out in ocean kayaks to bring in the two men, they said.
Dobby said that he and other lifeguards were setting up the beach when they saw a helicopter “starting to hover low.”
Then “it went down pretty hard. We saw a big splash,” said Dobby, 31, of Amityville.
Viverito said that when they got to the helicopter, McMahon and Regtien, who were “very calm,” told them they had experienced engine failure. The lifeguards placed the men in the kayaks and had them row toward the shore with the lifeguards swimming behind, and the Coast Guard met them a few hundred yards out, Viverito said.
“Everyone worked really well together,” said Viverito, 28, of Babylon. “It’s kind of what we train for.”
When the lifeguards returned to shore, beachgoers applauded them, said Amanda Giordano and Jennifer Scalice, who had just arrived at the beach shortly after the helicopter went down.
“My whole life coming here [this] has never happened before,” said Scalice, 26, of North Babylon.
Meyers said in a telephone interview that both men in the helicopter were wearing life jackets and that the Suffolk Police Marine Bureau got the two onto their vessel.
Meyers said the helicopter had flotation devices that were deployed, and it did not take on water.
Around 2 p.m., the helicopter was being towed by a local salvage company back to the Coast Guard station on Fire Island, the Coast Guard said.
With John Valenti