Five people aboard a sightseeing helicopter were killed after it crashed on Monday near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee.
The accident involved the Bell 2016 helicopter crashing, which was destroyed by fire. The incident occurred at about 3:30 p.m. near Sevierville, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.
According to Pigeon Force Police Chief Jack Baldwin, the helicopter went down to the side of the mountain and crashed at the foot. “There’s not much left of the helicopter,” Baldwin said. “It’s pretty much gone from the fire.”
“There’s a little bit of the tail fin of the helicopter, and that’s about all that’s left, that and the console, that’s about it,” he said.
Confirming the death of five individuals on Monday, Tennessee Emergency Management association spokesman Dean Flener said there were no casualties on the ground as the helicopter went down nor were there any homes damaged.
Shawn Matern heard the crash when he was at his parents’ house. “That’s when we came out and saw the second explosion right before our eyes,” he said, as reported by ABC News. The pilot emerged from the helicopter and a neighbor approached him to help.
Tour helicopters fly over the area at least three or four times a day, Matern added.
While certain tour operators are known to fly too close to waterfalls and trees to “thrill the tourists,” it is too early to determine what caused the crash, according to Gary C. Robb, a Kansas city attorney who is also the author of a book on helicopter crash litigation.