Helicopter crash leaves TV meteorologist and pilot dead in North Carolina
Amir Vera, Sharif Paget and Melissa Alonso, CNN
(CNN) — Two employees of WBTV, a CNN affiliate, died Tuesday in a helicopter crash in Charlotte, North Carolina, the station confirmed.
Meteorologist Jason Myers and pilot Chip Tayag were identified as the employees in the crash, the station said.
“The WBTV family is grieving a terrible loss. Our news helicopter Sky3 crashed mid-day Tuesday with two of our colleagues on board,” WBTV said in a statement. “We are working to comfort their families in this difficult time. We appreciate the outpouring of support for our staff and your continued prayers for their families.”
Multiple local and national organizations took to Twitter in support of the station Tuesday including the Carolina Panthers and the National Weather Service.
Charlotte police were initially notified about the crash off Interstate 77 on the side of the road around 12 p.m. Once officers arrived, they confirmed two people died on the scene, according to Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings.
No other vehicles were involved, Jennings said. The chief said he heard the helicopter’s pilot may have diverted the aircraft to avoid hitting traffic.
“If that is truly the case then that pilot is a hero in my eyes to make sure that the safety and security of those that were driving on the road was not in jeopardy, ” he said.
Jennings told reporters traffic is expected to remain closed near the scene of the crash and he does not anticipate it opening up any time soon.
“I anticipate it going through rush hour and possibly through the night,” the chief said.
Police have secured the scene of the crash as they await the arrival of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration to investigate the crash, Jennings said.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper tweeted a statement, which said: “This is a terrible tragedy for the WBTV family and we are praying for them and all of those in the media who work so hard to keep the public informed.”
WBTV released information on each of the victims Tuesday. Myers, the meteorologist, watched WBTV as a child growing up in Union and Catawba counties. He worked in Raleigh, Texas and Virginia before returning to Charlotte in 2019, according to the station and his LinkedIn page. Myers leaves behind his wife, Jillian and four children.
Tayag, the pilot, “came to WBTV in 2017 as an ENG pilot operating Sky3,” the station said. He had more than 20 years experience as a pilot.