5 Dead in Tennessee Tour Helicopter Crash, Helicopter Crash Lawyers Investigate

May 4, 2016
Abram I. Bohrer

Helicopter crash attorneys at the aviation law firm of Bohrer & Lukeman are investigating the crash of a tour helicopter in rural Tennessee. The Bell 206L helicopter, operated by Smoky Mountain Helicopters, went down on Monday, April 4, 2016 in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The accident resulted in the deaths of all four passengers and the pilot, totalling five fatalities.

Three passengers killed in the crash were family members: a mother, her son, and her daughter. The fourth passenger was a family friend. The 49-year-old pilot had logged around 1,300 total flight hours and had over 850 hours of flight experience in Bell 206L helicopters.

Putting the Pieces Together

The legal cause of this helicopter accident is still pending but pilot error and/or mechanical failure have not been ruled out. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is reviewing the facts of the crash and according to the initial NTSB report, the chopper made contact with trees at the top of a ridge before crashing near Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The NTSB was able to recover both the engine and the airframe from the accident site and is actively working to determine what was the cause of the crash. An analysis of these components of the helicopter and other wreckage will assist helicopter and aviation crash experts in determining as to why the helicopter crashed.

A witness reported seeing the helicopter flying low and in a descent before hearing the sound of an impact. The witness further testified that the engine sounded like it had a problem before going silent. A second witness reported seeing the crash site consumed with flames.

The Bell 206L helicopter was purchased by Smoky Mountain Helicopters in 1986 for sightseeing purposes. The company offers scenic helicopter tours in and around the Great Smoky Mountains.

A pilot at the tour company reported flying the helicopter around 10 times on the morning of April 4. The accident pilot then performed four different flights in the helicopter before the accident flight.

Tour helicopters are pretty common in the area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a region known for its natural beauty and historical attractions.

Helicopter Crash Injuries Are Surprisingly Common

Although they are not often reported in the media, helicopter crashes are surprisingly common. Tour helicopter pilots are known for their recklessness and these pilots have a reputation for trying to thrill tourists by making risky maneuvers or flying too close to trees, waterfalls, or other natural phenomenon.

The helicopter crash lawyers at Bohrer & Lukeman – a law firm that focuses on aviation accidents – are actively monitoring the investigation and are conducting their own review of this general aviation crash. They will continue to follow the story for any updates and developments.