TV Meteorologist, Pilot Died in Helicopter Crash | Lifestyle | Update News

RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) — A helicopter pilot and meteorologist who worked for a North Carolina television station were killed Tuesday when a news helicopter crashed on an interstate in the Charlotte area, with police praising the pilot for heroically avoiding the roadway in the last moments.

Meteorologist Jason Myers and pilot Chip Tayag were identified as those killed in the crash in a WBTV statement – and by associates who covered the crash live from the station’s studios.

Fighting back tears, presenters Jamie Boll and Molly Grantham mourned their colleagues as they delivered updates during the broadcast, which went on non-stop for hours. These included witness statements that Tayag prevented a helicopter from crashing on Interstate-77 during a busy week of vacation travel.

“Jamie and I are learning it here as our newsroom is learning it and trying to figure it out, deeply grieving…” Grantham said during the broadcast. “We’re breaking the news and everyone – everyone – in our WBTV family mourns 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. The Mecklenburg County EMS Agency said both were killed at the scene.

Police said no vehicles on the ground were involved in the accident, which continued to disrupt traffic on the main highway.

“The pilot is a hero in my eyes,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings tweeted. “Witnesses testified that the pilot made diversionary moves away from the highway to save his life. Thanks to his heroic actions, there were no further injuries or vehicles on the highway involved in the incident.”

The boss also told reporters: “We want to enter the holiday season where we should spend time with our loved ones. And tragically, the accident involves two people who will not return home and spend the holidays with their families.”

Anchors Boll and Grantham spent at least 90 minutes going live before stopping to confirm the deaths of Myers and Tayag, after making sure their families had been notified.

“People have a hard time finding words, we stuck with it for a while,” Boll said, his voice cracking before clearing his throat.

Boll saw Tayaga at 11 a.m. Tuesday as the pilot sat in the helicopter preparing to pick up Myers, a meteorologist.

“These smiles you see on screen are those two people,” said Boll from the anchor panel.

“Every day in this newsroom, Chip waved at you, said hello, asked how you were. He was waving from behind the helicopter pilot’s seat,” Boll said. “Jason Myers – I could go on and on. He walked through this newsroom with incredible energy and a smile, he just cared about everyone here.”

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

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

Governor Roy Cooper expressed his condolences to the station and the entire North Carolina Press Corps.

“This is a terrible tragedy for the WBTV family and we pray for them and all those in the media who are working so hard to inform the public,” Cooper wrote in a tweet.

The National Transportation Safety Board will lead an investigation into the crash with the FAA.

Finley reported from Norfolk, Virginia.

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