FROM: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/cab-driver-struck-helicopter-pilot-clipped-article-1.228739In accordance with Federal Laws provided For Educational and Information Purposes – i.e. of PUBLIC InterestCab driver who struck helicopter pilot says he wasclippedBY Peter Kadushin, Richard Huff & Alison Gendardaily News WritersTuesday, October 9 2007, 4:00 AMMohammed Chowdury, at Queens home, described fatal crash.
Paul SmithThe cabbie who jumped a curb outside a midtown seafood restaurant - killing a TV helicopter pilot and injuringtwo others - says he lost control when another car hit him and sped off."It was an accident. I think it was the black cars fault," cabbie Mohammed Chowdury, 23, who has been driving ataxi for just two months, said yesterday."I just want the family to know it was an accident. I cant apologize enough for this."Chowdury told cops he changed lanes on Third Ave. on Sunday night to pick up a fare when a black car came outof nowhere, clipped him and fled.Flying over the curb, Chowdury crashed into helicopter pilot Paul Smith, 60, who had just celebrated a friendsbirthday at Docks Oyster Bar on Third Ave. near 40th St."It just happened so fast. I dont know how I hit him. But all of a sudden, there was a man under my car,"Chowdury said.Smith, a chopper pilot for WABC-TV Channel 7, died of his injuries. His wife, Donna, was in stable conditionyesterday at Bellevue hospital with a broken pelvis and ribs and a bruised liver. The 7-year-old son of a familyfriend was released yesterday from Bellevue."I didnt drive away. The man was hurt, and I wanted to help him. The black car left the accident. You dont runaway from an accident. You just dont do that," Chowdury told the Daily News outside his Queens apartment.Witnesses said Chowdurys cab was speeding, and no one reported seeing a black sedan drive off. Cops seizedChowdurys cell phone to see if he was talking on the phone when he crashed.The Manhattan district attorneys office will determine whether Chowdury will face any charges after reviewingwitness statements and surveillance video, sources said.
Smiths family and colleagues yesterday mourned the loss of an outgoing family man, respected chopper pilot andVietnam veteran.Smith, who grew up in Oklahoma, served two tours in Vietnam before he came East and went to work for privatehelicopter companies.He was in the air on Sept. 11, saw the second plane slam into the World Trade Center and kept a cool head neededto document the terror attack, friends said."When we shot pictures that were seen by the world, and I was terrified, Paul took over," recalled News Copter 7sJohn Del Giorno on Channel 7 News. "Pauls training kicked in, and Paul kept us in the air. He kept us safe andmore than anything, he kept me calm."Helicopters Inc., where Smith doubled as safety director, grounded its New York fleet in tribute yesterday -concerned also that pilots might be distracted by their colleagues death."The helicopter community, despite being competitive, is a very small family of people," said Joe Biermann,chopper reporter for WCBS-TV Channel 2. "In all of New York, its maybe 30 people. Everybody is family,especially when were on the ground."Smith recently celebrated his 60th birthday in typical style - a huge backyard barbecue at his West Islip home anda cliff-diving trip to Costa Rica.While modest about his accomplishments, Smith was thrilled by the accomplishments of his sons, Cory, 26, andKale, 24. Cory, an NYPD officer at Brooklyns 75th Precinct, recently won two citations for police work.