Three people dead after Smokies Plane Crash


A single-engine plane heading to Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport had crashed in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Knoxville, Tennessee on. According to the National Park service, all three passengers were found dead.

National Park Service had confirmed on Tuesday night that the plane which was on its way to the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport had crashed in the national park, leaving no survivors.

The Passengers

The three passengers were identified as Kim Smith, of High Springs, Fla, David Starling, her boyfriend, and his 8-year-old son, Hunter Starling. Smith’s second cousin, Samantha Hodges, said on Tuesday afternoon that the family had not heard from them after they had supposedly boarded the plane.

The three of them were supposed to be traveling to the Gatlinburg area for a vacation with the rest of the family, including Smith’s mother and sister.

The National Park Service received a notice at 7:35pm on Monday that the plane may have crashed in the park. After finding the plane, a statement was released about the incident. However, there were no details about the cause of the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board announced it would be leading an investigation to find out more about the incident.


According to the release, the plane was found by the Tennessee Army National Guard in between Cole Creek and Bearpen Hollow Branch at around 4:43pm on Tuesday. Paramedics later confirmed that there were no survivors from the crash.

Records from the Federal Aviation Administration show that the plane was registered to Joseph David Starling. He had a certification from April 2014 as a private pilot.

The last contact the family had with the three passengers was at around 4pm on Monday. Smith had told her mother she was about 13 minutes away over the phone.

“They were waiting on them, but they never landed,” Hodges said.