Pigeon Forge police release names of victims in helicopter crash

Courtesy of WATE

PIGEON FORGE (WATE) – 6:58 p.m.

The Pigeon Forge Police Department has released the names of victims that died in a helicopter crash in Pigeon Forge on Monday afternoon.

The pilot of the sightseeing helicopter, operated by Smoky Mountain Helicopters, is Jason Dahl, 38, of Sevierville. The four passengers on the helicopter include Johna Morvant, 49, and her two children Peyton Rasmussen, 22, of Huntsville, North Carolina and Parker Rasmussen, 18, of Huntersville, North Carolina. Michael Genn Mastalez, 21, of Prosper Texas was also killed in the crash.

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PIGEON FORGE (WATE) – A newspaper in North Platte, Nebraska said family has confirmed the identities of three people that were killed when a helicopter crashed Monday in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Family said Peyton Rasmussen, 22, Parker Rasmussen, 18, and their mother were among those who were killed in the crash, the North Platte Telegraph reports. Butch Rasmussen, the grandfather of Peyton and Parker Rasmussen, told the paper the family had been living in North Carolina. He said the children were visiting their mother when they decided to go on the sightseeing tour.

Peyton Rasmussen, 22, Parker Rasmussen, 18, and their mother Johna Jochum Morvant. (Facebook/Johna Jochum Morvant)
Peyton Rasmussen, 22, Parker Rasmussen, 18, and their mother Johna Jochum Morvant. (Facebook/Johna Jochum Morvant)

According to her Facebook page, Johna Jochum Morvant is the mother of Peyton and Parker Rasmussen. She was living in Kodak.

Pigeon Forge Chief of Police Jack Baldwin said they can’t release the identities yet. He said police are working with the medical examiner’s office and federal agencies, checking dental records to make sure they have the proper identities confirmed before releasing information.

WATE 6 On Your Side has reached out to family members and working on getting more information on the victims killed in the crash. Identities of a fourth passenger and the pilot, operated by Smoky Mountain Helicopters, have not been released.

Luke Schiada, with the NTSB, said crews will be at the site of the wreck, which happened at around 3:30 p.m. Monday off of Rainbow Road in Pigeon Forge, for the next couple days gathering information. Then they’ll transport the helicopter,  to a warehouse in Springfield, Tennessee for further analysis.

Full video: NTSB briefing on helicopter crash

Schiada said a preliminary report will be released in the next week. A factual report will be released in the next couple of months that includes everything from the pilot’s background, medical certifications, information on the company, the helicopter’s maintenance history and weather conditions.

That factual report will be sent to the NTSB board in Washington D.C. where they will decide on a probable cause of the crash. However, Schiada said the review process could take up to a year.

“We’re in the process right now of documenting the perishable information, trying to identify switches, ground scars, separating components, radios, before it gets moved by the recovery and that’s what we’re spending our time doing here on the scene,” said Schiada. In addition, there is some reports and it looked like there was a piece of debrief that might be in a nearby, I think it’s called the Little Pigeon River, and the Pigeon Forge Fire Department are actually wading in the river right now looking parts and recovering the ones that we know about and actually conducting a search for those parts.”

The fact that the wreckage was consumed by fire makes the investigation much more difficult, according to Sciada.  “It does appear that the entire helicopter is at the scene, however it is extremely fragmented due to consumption from post-crash fire. It looks like the helicopter impacted near the top of a ridge and then a post-crash fire pretty much consumed the entire wreckage,” he said.

Investigators also found parts of the helicopter’s landing gear on top of the ridge-line. A timelapse video from the WATE 6 Storm Team’s towercam shows the smoke from the mountain.

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Related: Pigeon Forge sightseeing helicopters target of critics for years

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