On December 29, 2021, a Robinson helicopter crash in eastern Tennessee, killed one person and badly injured another. The fatal crash happened just before 3:00 p.m. local time in Sevierville, Tennessee, not far from the Cocke County line.
According to local media, the helicopter departed from Gatlinburg Pigeon Forge Airport at approximately 2:13 p.m. and was supposed to return at 2:26 p.m. An eye witness who lives close to the crash site said the helicopter was traveling at a high rate of speed before it collided with terrain. “It was incredibly loud, and you know something is wrong when something like that hits the side of a mountain…”
Emergency responders arrived at the scene to find a man and a woman in the wreckage. The man, who identified himself as Matt Jones, was yelling for help and in pain. He identified himself as the pilot. His passenger, Julie Wagner, was unresponsive. Both victims were extricated from the wreckage and transported to area hospitals. Mr. Jones passed away due to his severe injuries. Wagner, who was also badly hurt, is expected to survive.
Weather conditions at the time of the crash may have been a factor. A representative from Scenic Helicopter Tours, a local tourist helicopter company, said weather conditions were “not flyable.”
The Robinson R44 with tail number N544SC is registered to November Alpha LLC. The company owns Touchstone Helicopters, a helicopter leasing company based in California.
Sevierville, Tennessee Helicopter Crash Investigation
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is the lead agency investigating the cause of the Robinson R44 crash in eastern Tennessee. NTSB helicopter accident investigations usually take between 12-36 months to complete. Before issuing its final report and making any applicable safety recommendations, the agency usually releases a preliminary report detailing any early findings in the investigation. NTSB generally issues preliminary reports within weeks of accidents or incidents.
Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman aviation attorney and senior shareholder Timothy A. Loranger says the NSTB will look into a variety of issues, including but not limited to:
- Maintenance records for any anomalies
- Possible mechanical failure
- Actions of the pilot
- Weather conditions
“Helicopter operators are responsible for actively checking weather conditions to ensure safe flight,” says Loranger, who has worked on many of the firm’s helicopter crash cases. “If cloud coverage and visibility were a problem pre-flight, the helicopter never should have left the ground. If the weather changes during flight, a decision should have been made to land and avoid flight into known instrument conditions.”
Robinson Helicopter Crash Data
Robinson Helicopter Company has headquarters in Torrance, California. While the company is a global market leader, Robinson helicopters have been involved in numerous aviation accidents.
According to government data*, Robinson R22, R44, and R66 models have been involved in over 1,620 aviation accidents or incidents globally. A total of 715 people died in these accidents. Many more sustained injuries.
Robinson R22 Helicopter Accidents and Incidents*
- 185 Fatal
- 273 Deaths
- 1009 Total
Robinson R44 Helicopter Accidents and Incidents*
- 201 Fatal
- 403 Deaths
- 559 Total
Robinson R66 Helicopter Accidents and Incidents*
- 18 Fatal
- 39 Deaths
- 40 Total
Helicopter Crash Attorneys
If you or a member of your family have been injured in a helicopter crash, an experienced aviation attorney can help protect and vindicate your legal rights. Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman trial lawyers have decades of experience litigating cases against major helicopter operators and manufacturers, including more than a dozen crashes involving Robinson helicopters
We are one of the most experienced aviation accident law firms in the United States. Some of our top aviation settlements include:
- $17.5 Million – Wrongful death of a passenger in a major US plane crash
- $14 Million – Wrongful death of a passenger in a major US plane crash
- $12 Million – Injured passenger in a helicopter crash
- $10 Million – Wrongful death of a passenger in a major foreign plane crash
- $7.5 Million – Wrongful death of passenger in a helicopter crash
To speak with our legal team about your case, fill out our contact form or give us a call at (855) 948-5098. We offer free and confidential case evaluations.
* Data current as of January 2022. In October of 2020, NTSB changed its data search tool to the Case Analysis and Reporting Online (known as the CAROL query system). The CAROL system does not include accidents prior to 2008. This is problematic for aviation accident statistics because, in the case of Robinson Helicopters, the first model was introduced in 1979, which means the CAROL system does not include decades of Robinson crash history. Baum Hedlund tabulated the data above using the total number of Robinson helicopter from the previous NTSB database and added the new crashes since 2008 using the new CAROL query system.