Investigators on Tuesday examined the wreckage of a sightseeing helicopter that crashed and burned near Great Smoky Mountains National Park in eastern Tennessee, but said it was too early to tell what caused it to go down.
Luke Schiada, a senior investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, said there was 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 four passengers and the pilot.
Officials said the tourist helicopter, which was built in 1977 and operated by Smoky Mountain Helicopters, was destroyed by fire after the crash.
Pigeon Forge police on Tuesday identified those killed as the pilot, Jason Dahl, 38, of Sevierville; and four passengers, Johna Morvant, 49, of Kodak, Tennessee; Peyton Rasmussen, 22, of Huntersville, North Carolina; Michael Glenn Mastalez, 21, of Prosper, Texas; and Parker Rasmussen, 18, also of Huntersville.
The Rasmussens’ father, Scott Rasmussen of Huntersville, told the Knoxville News Sentinel that Mastalez was his daughter Peyton’s boyfriend. Peyton and her brother Parker were visiting Morvant, their mother, family members said.