Businessman Jim Clayton among three survivors of Tennessee River helicopter crash

Tennessee News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The identities of three people – including Knoxville entrepreneur and philanthropist James “Jim” Clayton – who survived a helicopter crash in the Tennessee River on Monday have been identified by Knoxville Police.

The survivors of the crash have been identified as:

  • James “Jim” Clayton, 86
  • John McBride, 65
  • Flynt Griffin, 40

The Clayton Family confirmed in a statement that Joe Clayton, the co-founder of Clayton Automobiles and Clayton Homes, was killed in the crash.

“I am devastated and completely heartbroken by the loss of my wonderful brother, Joe,” Jim Clayton said. “Joe and I were as close as two brothers can be, and, as only siblings, we have supported each other since growing up together on a farm in West Tennessee and as business partners for decades. My thoughts and concerns are totally for Joe’s family right now.”

Knox County Rescue Squad around 8 p.m. Monday responded to reports of an aircraft down at Cherokee Farm Way. The three survivors were able to escape the crash and were picked up by a pontoon boat while swimming to shore. They told first responders they did not require medical attention.

Around 9:45 p.m. the body of the fourth person in the helicopter crash was recovered by divers, according to the Knoxville Fire Department.

Jim and Joe Clayton found Clayton Homes, a manufactured housing company, in 1966. The company grew into the largest producer and seller of manufactured housing in America before it was sold to Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway for $1.7 billion in 2003.


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