Tenants of the Axa Equitable Center, which houses BNP Paribas USA, streamed out onto the rainy streets of New York City on Monday after a helicopter crash-landed on the top of the skyscraper.
BNP Paribas USA CEO Jean-Yves Fillion was sitting on the 33rd floor when the helicopter crashed just 21 floors above.
“It’s complicated to describe because you have meetings, you have normal and natural conversations and suddenly you feel this, you know shock, without really understanding what’s going on,” Fillion told FOX Business’ Liz Claman on Wednesday.
The 752-foot building houses the French banking giant's NYC headquarters and its 2,000 employees. The bank instantly kicked in its emergency protocols that were years in the making.
The BNP chief said that everyone was instructed to evacuate the building within a minute of the incident. The building’s elevators were shut down and employees were instructed to take the stairwells.
“It was very interesting that people were discipline, trained and were actually were very calm,” Fillion described the employees as they squeezed into the stairwells.
Ironically, the bank conducted a business continuity plan this past weekend that prepared the BNP employees for the unfortunate event.
The helicopter crash took the life of the pilot, Tim McCormick, who took off from a New York City heliport in rainy weather. Investigators are still looking into the cause of the deadly crash and the Federal Aviation Administration is now saying the pilot was not licensed to fly in Monday’s poor visibility conditions.
And although additional information remains to be found, Fillion said there’s a possibility the pilot attempted to land the helicopter on top of the building to avoid more casualties.
“I would like to extend my condolences to the family of the pilot who died in this accident,” he said.
Fillon also praised the first responders, emergency response teams and the BNP security team for their “outstanding job” in managing the situation.