Two employees of WBTV, a CNN affiliate, died Tuesday in a helicopter crash in Charlotte, North Carolina, the network confirmed.
Meteorologist Jason Myers and pilot Chip Tayag have been identified as collaborators in the crash, the station said.
“The WBTV family is mourning a terrible loss. Our Sky3 news helicopter crashed Tuesday midday with two of our colleagues on board,” WBTV said in a statement. “We are working to comfort their families at this difficult time. We appreciate the great support given to our staff and your continued prayers for their families.”
Charlotte police were initially notified of the accident off the roadside of Interstate 77 around 12 p.m. When officers arrived, they confirmed that two people died at 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 plane to avoid traffic.
“If that’s really the case, then I think of this pilot as a hero who makes sure the safety of those driving on the road isn’t compromised,” he said.
Jennings told reporters traffic is expected to remain closed near the accident site and he doesn’t expect it to open anytime soon.
“I expect it to be during rush hour and possibly into the night,” the chief said.
Police have secured the crash site while they await the arrival of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration to investigate the crash, Jennings said.
Roy Cooper, Governor of North Carolina tweeted a statementwho said: “This is a terrible tragedy for the WBTV family and we are praying for them and everyone in the media who is working so hard to keep the public informed.”
WBTV released information about each of the victims on 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 broadcaster and its LinkedIn page. Myers is survived by his wife Jillian and four children.
Tayag, the pilot, “joined WBTV in 2017 as an ENG pilot for Sky3,” the broadcaster said. He had more than 20 years of experience as a pilot.