Utah woman killed in helicopter crash after pilot was ordered not to fly

Jan 6, 2022, 5:00 AM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 6:59 pm

Friends of a Utah woman who died in a helicopter crash in Tennessee are speaking out after they learned the pilot was ordered not to fly by a federal judge a week prior. The U.S. Attorney’s office confirmed to KSL that Matthew Jones should not have been in Tennessee, let alone flying any aircraft.

That’s because he’s facing a federal prosecution in Utah for mail fraud and falsely claiming he was a certified flight instructor. Juli Wagner was the passenger who died in the December 29th crash in Sevier County, Tennessee. Her friend Gina Blake wants justice.

“Juli had a really big, beautiful heart and she loved people.”

She was a devoted mother to her son, a huge Tom Brady Patriots fan, and a savvy businesswoman, who Gina says recently started dating Matthew Jones.

“She sent me pictures of him and said he was a pilot who flew planes and helicopters.”

Days before leaving for Tennessee with Matthew, Juli told Gina they were planning on opening a helicopter tour business.

“She said she was excited to go up in the sky with him.”

Tennessee authorities say the helicopter Matthew was flying took off from the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport and went down 8 minutes later. Weather conditions were overcast, drizzly, and foggy.

“After she died this new information started coming out about his background,” said Blake.

Gina says she felt like something was off about Matthew, but never imagined he would put Juli in danger. Instead of celebrating what would have been Juli’s 36th birthday last week – Gina will honor her memory.

“I’m really angry. I feel like he’s a con-man who conned his way into Juli’s life.

Jones is recovering from his injuries at a Tennessee hospital. The U.S. Attorney’s office says it will depend on his health status as to when he will be brought back to Utah to face prosecution.

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Utah woman killed in helicopter crash after pilot was ordered not to fly