Meteorologist and TV pilot die in helicopter crash

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A helicopter pilot and meteorologist who worked for a North Carolina television station died Tuesday when a news helicopter crashed along an area highway of Charlotte, with police praising the pilot for heroically avoiding the causeway in his final moments.

Meteorologist Jason Myers and pilot Chip Tayag were identified as those killed in the crash in a statement from WBTV – and by colleagues who reported on the crash live from the station’s studio.

Fighting back tears, anchors Jamie Boll and Molly Grantham mourned their colleagues while providing updates on a show that went on non-stop for hours. They included witness reports that Tayag prevented the helicopter from crashing into Interstate-77 during a busy vacation week.

“Jamie and I are learning it here as our newsroom learns about it and tries to figure it out while crying deeply…” Grantham said on the show. “We’re giving the news and all of us – all – of our WBTV family mourn Chip and Jason because we love them.”

The Robinson R44 helicopter crashed shortly after noon local time with two people on board, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. Mecklenburg County EMS said both men were pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said no ground vehicles were involved in the accident, which further impeded traffic on the main highway.

“The pilot is a hero in my eyes,” tweeted Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Chief Johnny Jennings. “Witnesses said the driver turned off the highway to save lives. Due to his heroic actions, there were no other injuries or vehicles on the highway involved in the incident.

The chef also told reporters: ‘We are looking to enter the festive period where we are supposed to spend time with our loved ones. And tragically, there are two people involved in this accident who will not return home and spend the holidays with their families.

Anchors Boll and Grantham spent at least 90 minutes providing live coverage before stopping to confirm the deaths of Myers and Tayag, after ensuring their families were notified.

“People are struggling to find the words, we’ve been hanging on to this for a while,” Boll said, his voice wavering before clearing his throat.

Boll had seen Tayag at 11 a.m. Tuesday morning as the pilot sat in the helicopter, preparing to pick up Myers, the meteorologist.

“Those smiles that you see right there on your screen are those two people,” Boll said from the anchor desk.

“Every day in this newsroom, Chip would wave to you to say hello, ask how you are. He was waving behind the helicopter pilot’s chair,” Boll said. “Jason Myers – I could go on and on. He walked through this press room with incredible energy and smiles and cared about everyone here.

Myers grew up in Union and Catawba counties in North Carolina and worked in the city of Raleigh, as well as in Texas and Virginia before returning to the Charlotte area where he grew up, WBTV said. . He and his wife Jillian have four children.

Tayag had been a pilot for more than 20 years, the station said. He started working for WBTV in 2017 and celebrated his third wedding anniversary in August, according to his Instagram page.

Governor Roy Cooper offered his condolences to the station and the entire North Carolina press.

“This is a terrible tragedy for the WBTV family and we pray for them and everyone in the media who work so hard to keep the public informed,” Cooper wrote in a tweet.

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the accident with the FAA.


Finley reported from Norfolk, Virginia.

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