5 killed in US tourist helicopter crash

CfOqpCzUAAAZIyIFive people died Monday when a sightseeing helicopter crashed near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in eastern Tennessee, officials said.

The Bell 206 tourist helicopter crashed about 3:30 p.m. near Sevierville, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said in an email. Officials said the helicopter was destroyed by fire.

“There’s not much left of the helicopter,” Pigeon Forge Police Chief Jack Baldwin said. “It’s pretty much gone from the fire.”

Baldwin said the helicopter appeared to have come down the side of a mountain and crashed at the foot of it.

“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.

About four hours after the crash, more than a dozen emergency vehicles were at the site, which is less than a mile from a large outlet mall in Sevierville and adjacent to a neighborhood off the main tourist drag. The site is about three miles from Dolly Parton’s Dollywood theme park.

Smoke billowed over the wooded area. The Pigeon Forge Fire Department said it had units at the scene.

Tennessee Emergency Management Association spokesman Dean Flener confirmed late Monday afternoon that five people had died. Flener said no homes were damaged and no one on the ground was injured when the helicopter went down. (Courtesy Associated Press)

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