Raleigh, North Carolina –
A helicopter pilot and meteorologist who worked for a North Carolina television station was killed Tuesday when a news helicopter crashed along an interstate in the Charlotte area.
Meteorologist Jason Myers and pilot Chip Tayag were identified as those killed in the crash by WBTV’s statement and by colleagues who were reporting the crash live from the station’s studio.
Anchors Jamie Ball and Molly Grantham held back tears and mourned their colleagues as they provided updates during the hours of non-stop broadcast. They included eyewitness reports that Tayag saved a helicopter from crashing into Interstate 77 during a busy week of vacation travel.
“Jamie and I are learning it here just like our newsroom is learning it and trying to understand it with great sorrow…” Grantham said during the broadcast. is breaking this news and we at the WBTV family all love Chip and Jason so much and we are saddened for 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 two were pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Mecklenburg County EMS Agency.
Police said no vehicles on the ground were involved in the crash and it is still disrupting traffic on the main road.
“Pilots are heroes in my eyes” Johnny Jennings tweeted, Police Chief Charlotte Mecklenburg. “Witnesses indicated the pilot pulled a distraction off the highway to save his life. Thanks to his heroic act, there were no further injuries on the highway involved in the incident. There were no people or vehicles.”
Chief also told reporters: And tragically, the two people involved in the crash are unable to return home or vacation with their families. “
Anchors Bol and Grantham broadcast live for at least 90 minutes before stopping to check on Myers and Tayag’s deaths, making sure they notified their families.
“People are difficult to put into words. We’ve been stuck with this for a while,” Ball said.
Boll was watching Tayag at 11 a.m. Tuesday morning as the pilot sat in the helicopter preparing to pick up meteorologist Myers.
“Those smiles on the screen, those two,” Boll said from the anchor desk.
“Every day in this newsroom, Chip would wave hello and ask how he was doing. He would wave from behind the helicopter cockpit,” Ball said. He ran through this newsroom with incredible energy and smiles and cared about everyone here. “
Myers grew up in Union and Catawba counties in North Carolina and worked in Raleigh, Texas and Virginia before returning to the Charlotte area where he grew up, WBTV said. He and his wife Jillian have four of his children.
Tayag has 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 broadcaster and the entire North Carolina press corps.
“This is a terrible tragedy for the WBTV family and our prayers are with them and all those working hard to keep the public informed.” 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.