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Knoxville Breaking News, Weather, Traffic, Sports | WBIR.com

Knoxville couple rushes out on a pontoon to save helicopter crash survivors

The aircraft fell into the Tennessee River near the Sequoyah Hills neighborhood Monday night. Three people survived.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A helicopter crashed into the Tennessee River near the Sequoyah Hills neighborhood, killing Joe Clayton. He helped found Clayton Homes and Clayton Automobiles. However, three people survived.

Neighbors saw the crash and called 911. When one couple saw the wreckage, they immediately got in their pontoon to pull survivors to safety. 

"Oh god, Jim Clayton just had his helicopter out here," said one person during a 911 call. "Mr. Clayton just crashed his helicopter. He's out of it right now." 

An onlooker captured a heroic rescue Monday night, as neighbors frantically called 911 and described the crash to dispatchers.

"The thing broke apart in a million pieces," said another person on a 911 call. 

But the heroes in the pontoon didn't want credit for the rescue. The Knoxville Fire Department publicly thanked them, Jeff and Rachael Weida, for speeding out to rescue survivors after the crash. 

RELATED: Prominent businessman Joe Clayton died in helicopter crash; brother Jim Clayton survived along with 2 others

They said they didn't even want to go on camera. They also said that they did what they had to do in the moment, potentially saving lives before first responders arrived.  

Millionaire philanthropist and Clayton Homes founders Jim and Joe Clayton, Jim's grandson Flynt Griffin and retired developer Jay McBride were on board. 

The couple was able to help three of them into their boat. 

However, after anxiously waiting, rescue squad divers found Joe Clayton's body two hours later.

The wreckage was recovered Wednesday. Crews pulled the aircraft weighing almost 3,000 pounds up from roughly 40 feet down.