- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 5, 2016

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (AP) - The Latest on the crash of a sightseeing helicopter near Great Smoky Mountains National Park in eastern Tennessee (all times local):

7:30 p.m.

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, police have identified the five people killed when a sightseeing helicopter crashed and burned near Great Smoky Mountains National Park in eastern Tennessee.

Police said in a news release that the dead were the pilot, 38-year-old Jason Dahl, of Sevierville, Tennessee; and four passengers, 49-year-old Johna Morvant of Kodak, Tennessee, 22-year-old Peyton Rasmussen of Huntersville, North Carolina, 21-year-old Michael Glenn Mastalez of Prosper, Texas, and 18-year-old Parker Rasmussen, also of Huntersville.

The Rasmussens’ father, Scott Rasmussen of Huntersville, told the Knoxville News Sentinel that Mastalez was his daughter’s boyfriend. Family members said Peyton and Parker Rasmussen were visiting their mother, Morvant.

The helicopter crashed Monday afternoon near a large outlet mall in Sevierville. Investigators have been going through the wreckage but haven’t determined what caused the Bell 206 helicopter to crash.


3:20 p.m.

Investigators are combing through the wreckage of a sightseeing helicopter that crashed and burned near Great Smoky Mountains National Park in eastern Tennessee, but they say it’s too early to tell what caused it to go down.

Luke Schiada, senior investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, says there’s evidence that the Bell 206 helicopter made contact with the top of a ridge on the side of a mountain when it crashed Monday afternoon, killing five people. Officials said the tourist helicopter was destroyed by fire afterward.

Schiada says the tour route that the helicopter was on indicated it was to be a 12-minute flight. He adds the NTSB will be reviewing how the helicopter was loaded, the aircraft’s maintenance records, the pilot’s background and the wind conditions at the time.

Schiada says the NTSB will present a preliminary report on the facts of the crash on its website by the end of next week. An investigative report containing the probable cause of the crash could take a year or more. He called the investigation a “methodical process.”


4:53 a.m.

Officials say a sightseeing helicopter crashed near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in eastern Tennessee, killing all five people aboard.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen says in an email that a Bell 206 helicopter crashed around 3:30 p.m. Monday near Sevierville, Tennessee. Authorities say the tourist helicopter was destroyed by fire afterward.

Pigeon Forge Police Chief Jack Baldwin says the helicopter appeared to have come down the side of a mountain and crashed at the foot of it.

The site is less than a mile from a large outlet mall in Sevierville. It’s also about three miles from Dolly Parton’s Dollywood theme park.

No one was reported hurt on the ground.

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