The pilot was Jason Dahl, 38, of Sevierville. The passengers were Johna Morvant, 49, from Kodak and her two children, Peyton and Parker Rasmussen with Huntersville, NC addresses. Also killed in the crash was Michael Glenn Mastalez, 21, of Prosper, Tex.
10News spoke with family members of Johna Morvant and the Rasmussens.
Butch Rasmussen, grandfather to Peyton and Parker, who lives in Nebraska, told 10News in a phone interview that Peyton and Parker were visiting their mother for a few days. He described Peyton as being an extremely likeable young lady. He said her brother Parker was more of the quiet type but always had one or two friends around.
“I saw the news reports of a helicopter that crashed yesterday and five people were killed, and they showed the smoke coming up from the trees. And like everybody else, I’m thinking ‘Oh, what a sad story,’” said Butch Rasmussen. “And then I went on about my business, not knowing that was my family...not understanding that those were my grandkids on that plane.”
Their father, Scott Rasmussen, said Peyton and Parker had gone to visit their mom in East Tennessee three days ago. He said he texted them Monday afternoon and was surprised when he didn't hear from them. Then, he learned Tuesday morning that they'd been in the helicopter accident.
"They were just the light of my life and very loving kids, and I’m still in shock and disbelief that they’re not here anymore," Scott Rasmussen said. "It’s just really shocking right now that my kids went to go visit their mom and are never coming home."
He said Peyton was going to school to be a medical technician and Parker was a senior in high school.
“They were such good kids. I’m just going to miss them,” said Butch Rasmussen. “That’s all I can say to you. I don’t know what else to tell you.”
Johna was married to Keith Smitty Morvant. They had lived in Kodak for about a year, according to family friend Jackson Gibbs. They pair had been married for a bout six months, he said.
Morvant was too upset to speak with media Wednesday but Gibbs said he was authorized to speak for the family.
“Johna was always a very positive person. Best way for me to describe who she is in a few words is she’s really all sunshine and no rain," said Gibbs. "Johna just conveyed sunshine wherever she went, she’ll definitely be missed. Heaven has received a new angel.”
10News spoke briefly to the longtime girlfriend of the pilot, Jason Dahl, but she wasn’t able to comment. A public post on her Facebook page was flooded with more than 80 comments memorializing Dahl and offering condolences.
"Jason was one of the most hardworking people I've known," said Barb Nocula, a friend of Jason Dahl's from Chicago. "He was always kind and friendly to everyone...My heart breaks that he is no longer with us."
WBIR's Charlotte affiliate was able to confirm Michael Glenn Mastalez also had ties to Huntersville, N.C. as well. An uncle of Peyton and Parker told WCNC that Mastalez was Peyton's boyfriend and the trip to Tennessee was partially taken so her mother could meet him.
The NTSB is expected to release a preliminary report on the crash by the end of next week. The final investigative report, however, likely will take a year.