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'Yelling for help': Sheriff's Office report offers new details about helicopter crash near Cocke-Sevier county line

The crash happened the afternoon of Dec. 29. One person was killed; another person was injured.

TENNESSEE, USA — Editorial Changes: The Federal Aviation Administration, in an online database posted last week, stated the pilot died in the Dec. 29 crash and the passenger lived. That's incorrect, records show.

Cocke County deputies arriving at the scene of last week's helicopter crash found a man inside "yelling for help" and an unresponsive female, a Cocke County Sheriff's Office report states.

The unidentified man told Sgt. Ethan Keys and Deputy Jacob Sutton "he cannot move his legs and has a lot of pain in his lower back."

The officers were among the first to arrive at the scene, the report states.

Keys noted that he checked the unnamed female inside the wreckage and although she didn't appear to have any obvious injuries, she "was unresponsive and not moving."

According to the Federal Aviation Authority, one person died in the crash and one person suffered injuries and was transported to an area hospital. The person taken to the hospital was a man, according to authorities.

Credit: Flightaware
Flight path of the helicopter before its crash.

RELATED: FAA: Pilot killed, passenger injured in helicopter crash near Sevier-Cocke county line

But the Cocke County report identifies the unresponsive female as the "passenger."

The National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the crash, didn't have information available Tuesday to clarify exactly who was operating the aircraft.

Spokesman Peter Knudson told WBIR investigations typically take 12 to 24 months. A preliminary report on the Dec. 29 crash in Sevier County should be posted soon.

Keys noted in his report that the Sheriff's Office had received reports from callers "that a helicopter was seen flying over and then heard a large crash." Numerous other people from the Sheriff's Office went to the scene as did personnel from Sevier County and Gatlinburg.

"Due to fuel leaking heavily from the aircraft, both occupants were removed and pulled to safety away from the leaking fuel. I cut the seat belt that was holding the female passenger in the aircraft so she could be moved to a safe area for evaluation," Keys wrote.

"Other firefighters and emergency personnel arrived on scene and we carried the pilot down to an ambulance."

Knudson said the helicopter crashed on a ridge at an elevation of about 2,000 feet near Apple Tree Lane and Hooper Highway.

At the time, the weather was "drizzling rain and foggy," according to Keys' report.

Touchstone Helicopters owned the four-seater. A private individual picked up the aircraft at Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport.

It was airborne about 8 minutes when it crashed, according to Knudson.

Weather reports from Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport 20 minutes before the flight showed overcast skies, with ceilings as low as 1,600 feet.

According to FlightAware.com, the aircraft was flying between 1,500 feet and 2,000 feet.

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