Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas Flew in Same Helicopter That Crashed in East River

Two years before five people died in Sunday's helicopter crash in the East River, singers Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas photographed themselves flying in the same chopper.

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(Photo: Snapchat / Demi Lovato)

The longtime childhood friends shared a series of photos on their respective Snapchat accounts in July 2016, showing them posing in sunglasses and Snapchat filters aboard the helicopter.

Some of the images clearly show the red Eurocopter AS350's registration number, N35OLH, which can also be seen in the photographs taken just before Sunday night's crash.

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(Photo: Snapchat / Demi Lovato)

All five passengers aboard the helicopter died when it crashed into New York's East River, but the pilot, Richard Vance, managed to escape.

The helicopter was a private charter hired for a photo shoot; it went down near Gracie Mansion, the mayoral residence. Video footage from a bystander shared on Twitter show the red helicopter land hard in the water and then capsize, its rotors slapping at the water.

In an audio recording of a mayday call to LaGuardia Airport, the pilot said the helicopter was experiencing engine failure. When emergency workers responded, the chopper was upside down and submerged, authorities said. Police called for a barge with a crane to pull the helicopter out of the water near 23rd Street.

"One of the most difficult parts of the rescue were that five people were tightly harnessed," Fire Department of New York Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. "People had to be cut out."

Two of the five passengers died at the scene and three were taken to two area hospitals where they later died, New York City Police and fire department officials confirmed Monday.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman said the Eurocopter AS350 went down just after 7:00 p.m.

Vance told investigators that the crash may have been caused by a passenger's piece of luggage. The pilot said one of the passenger's bags seemed to have inadvertently hit the emergency fuel shutoff button, leading to the crash, a senior law enforcement official told CNN.

The aircraft was owned by Liberty Helicopters, a company that offers both private charters and sightseeing tours popular with tourists.

The National Transportation Safety Board will try to determine the cause of the Sunday evening crash. The NTSB tweeted that an investigation team of 14 people would arrive Monday morning.

The NTSB will likely look at three things: the pilot's training, experience and immediate response during the crash; what, if anything, on the helicopter caused the crash; and what environmental factors may have contributed to the crash, said Gary C. Robb, an aviation attorney based in Missouri.

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Robb told CNN that the NTSB would then release a preliminary report, and a probable-cause accident report would follow detailing what happened during the crash.

Liberty Helicopters posted a statement on its website, saying it is "focused on supporting the families affected by this tragic accident and on fully cooperating with the FAA and NTSB investigations." It said it was referring all press inquiries to federal agencies.