Three dead in plane crash in Smokies

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After a day of searching, three people are confirmed dead after their plane crashed in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Monday. The Tennessee National Guard located the wreckage late Tuesday afternoon.

Kim Smith, 42, David Starling, 41, and Starling’s 8-year-old son Hunter Starling from High Springs, Florida, were on board the plane, flying from Jacksonville to Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge airport, according to a GSMNP press release.

The Cessna 182 plane, a fixed wing, single-engine aircraft, went missing around 4 p.m. on Monday and was found 4:43 p.m. on Tuesday on an unnamed ridge between Cole Creek and Bearpen Hollow on the Tennessee side of the Park.

“Ground teams searched the steep and heavily wooded area on foot Tuesday, but were unable to access some areas due to the rough terrain,” a GSMNP press release said. “A single Blackhawk helicopter was able to fly late afternoon and spotted the wreckage along the last known flight path of the missing aircraft.”

Molly Schroer, information officer for the GSMNP, said weather reports on Dec. 26 in that area were “foggy and rainy.”  She added the area is very steep and not easily accessible by foot, making the recovery effort difficult.

“As of right now, we are working on the recovery effort,” Schroer said. “We are trying to get ground crews to the plane and secure it and hope to begin air operations if the weather clears up.”

The National Transportation Safety Board will now take over the investigation of the crash.

Smoky Mountain Times

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