A pilot and meteorologist for a North Carolina news station died when their helicopter crashed along Interstate 77 in Charlotte on Tuesday.
Pilot Chip Tayag and meteorologist Jason Myers were killed when their Robinson R44 helicopter crashed around noon in a grassy area next to the highway, the Charlotte Observer reported. Three others were transported to the hospital.
In a statement, WBTV said the station’s “family is grieving a terrible loss.”
“Our news helicopter Sky3 crashed mid-day Tuesday with two of our colleagues on board,” the station said. “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.”
The crash is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, WBTV reported.
A WCNC reporter on the scene said witnesses told her the pilot was visibly trying to avoid putting the copter down in a safe area. She said there is a charter school in the vicinity.
“I think that he absolutely knew that he was gonna have to put that down,” one witness told WCNC. “He did his best to put it down. … Whoever the pilot was did their best to put that thing down where it wasn’t going to injure a lot of people, and in that respect, they did a fabulous job.”
Local police chief Johnny Jennings agreed, telling WSOC-TV: “It seems the pilot who was operating the aircraft made some diversionary moves to avoid hitting traffic.”
Traffic on the interstate backed up as lanes and on-ramps were blocked by emergency vehicles responding to the incident.
The Robinson R44 is the best-selling civilian helicopter currently made and a common choice for flight schools, tour companies and law enforcement, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Times’ 2018 investigation revealed that more R44s had crashed from 2006 to 2016 than any other civilian helicopter.
This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.
This article originally stated that a helicopter crashed along a highway in South Carolina; however, the helicopter actually crashed along a highway in North Carolina. The article has been corrected to reflect this fact. American Military News regrets this error.