Three dead in Tennessee plane crash

Ed Adamczyk

GATLINBURG , Tenn., Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Searchers recovered the bodies of three people from the crash of a small plane in Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the National Park Service confirmed.

The plane left Jacksonville, Fla. on Monday and crashed as it approached its destination, Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport, near Knoxville, Tenn., the park service said. Air traffic controllers lost touch with the plane at around 4 p.m. Monday.


A reconnaissance flight by the Tennessee Air National Guard located the single-engine Cessna 182H plane late Tuesday afternoon. On board were David Starling, 41; his son Hunter, 8, and Kim Smith, 42, all from the Jacksonville area. The three were traveling to Gatlinburg for a vacation with Smith's relatives, the woman's cousin, Samantha Hodges, said. Paramedics were lowered to the plane from a military helicopter and confirmed there were no survivors.

The park service statement did not mention the cause of the crash, but said the plane was found between Cole Creek and Bearpen Hollow Branch in the national park. A land-based search for the plane was slowed by the terrain. Molly Schoer, Great Smoky Mountains National Park information officer, said the plane was found in "a very steep area, hard to get to by foot."


The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the incident. The National Park Service, Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, Civil Air Patrol, Federal Aviation Administration and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency were all involved in the search.

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