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Local meteorologist and pilot killed in North Carolina helicopter crash

Two killed in TV news helicopter crash
CBS affiliate WBTV meteorologist and pilot killed in North Carolina helicopter crash 02:18

A helicopter crashed on the side of an interstate highway in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Tuesday, killing two people. CBS Charlotte affiliate WBTV identified the two people killed as Jason Myers, a meteorologist at the station, and Chip Tayag, the helicopter's pilot.

"Our news helicopter Sky3 crashed mid-day Tuesday with two of our colleagues on board," WBTV said in a statement. "Meteorologist Jason Myers and pilot Chip Tayag lost their lives. 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."

According to WBTV, Myers leaves behind a wife and four children. 

Tayag had been piloting the Sky3 helicopter since 2017 and had more than 20 years of experience as a pilot, WBTV reported. He also flew for Total Traffic and Weather Network, according to WBTV.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that the helicopter, a Robinson R44, crashed at around 12:20 p.m. local time with two people on board. 

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings said at a news conference that no other vehicles were involved, as the helicopter landed just off of I-77.

"It seems the pilot that was operating the aircraft made some diversionary moves to avoid hitting traffic ... To me it looks like a heroic incident where the pilot tried to avoid injuring anyone else and putting anyone else in danger," Jennings said. "If that is truly the case then that pilot is a hero, in my eyes, to make sure the safety and security of those driving on the road was not in jeopardy."

WBTV anchors Jamie Boll and Molly Grantham were reporting on the crash live for at least 90 minutes, according to The Associated Press, before they interrupted the broadcast to announce that it was two of their colleagues who had been killed.

"It is a heavy day here at WBTV as our family is grieving, alongside Chip and Jason's families," Grantham said. "They were coworkers, and they are friends. And we waited to report this information publicly ... to make sure that their wives and their families were notified first."

A clearly emotional Boll said "the words are hard to come by," adding that the station had been "holding onto this for a while."

As photos of the deceased were displayed on screen, Boll said he had seen Tayag earlier that morning on the helicopter pad as the pilot was waiting to pick up Myers.

"Every single day in this newsroom, Chip would wave at you, say hello, ask you how you're doing. He'd wave from behind the pilot's chair of the helicopter," Boll said. "Jason Myers, I could go on and on. He would bound through this newsroom with incredible energy and smiles and just cared about everybody here ... We are devastated."

"We just can't tell you the right words right now to tell you how much he meant to us and how much we are thinking of both of their families," Boll added.

The aftermath of the crash was captured by highway traffic camera footage, which showed police cars crowded around the crash site. Police said the southbound lanes, which were otherwise empty, of I-77 near Nations Ford Road would remain closed "for an extended period of time" in an update shared to Twitter.

Both the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.

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