CHARLOTTE – Two employees of a Charlotte television station were killed in a helicopter crash that happened around noon Tuesday in south Charlotte.
The crash happened near Interstate 77 at Nations Ford Road. MEDIC confirmed that two people were pronounced dead at the scene.
Around 3pm on Tuesday, WBTV issued a statement confirming that it was the station’s helicopter involved in the crash.
“The WBTV family is suffering a terrible loss. Our Sky3 news helicopter crashed on Tuesday at noon 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 during this difficult time. We appreciate the support for our staff and your continued prayers for their families.”
The FAA released a statement Tuesday about the crash saying, “A Robinson R44 helicopter crashed near I-77 South and Nations Ford Road in Charlotte, North Carolina at approximately 12:20 p.m. local time. today. Two people were on board. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. The NTSB will handle the investigation and provide additional updates. No agency is identifying people involved in plane crashes.”
CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings said the pilot is a hero in his eyes.
“It appears that the pilot operating the aircraft made some evasive maneuvers to avoid hitting traffic,” Jennings said.
Investigators remained at the scene overnight with some lanes of I-77 reopened.
‘This helicopter is going to crash’: Witnesses recount moments as investigators search for evidence
Carolyn Russ was driving on Interstate 77 when she saw the accident unfold. He told Channel 9 the helicopter went down right next to him.
“I was flying back and forth … and I knew immediately that the helicopter was going to crash,” Russ told Channel 9.
“It started to flat and it spun around and started going north, and it crashed into the ground right on the side of the freeway right next to my car,” Russ added.
Witness Bridget-Ann Hampden said there was no smoke or fire and the wreck was “eerily quiet”.
He said it appeared the pilot was veering off the busy interstate.
“I really feel like he deliberately veered off the freeway because when he landed. He wasn’t more than five feet from the lane that I was in,” Hampden said.
Hampden said the pilot was a hero.
“Honestly, it might have saved my life,” Hampden said. “Because I’m not sure what would have happened, you know? It was so close to me.”
Russ said his heart goes out to the families of Tayag and Myers and his WBTV family.
“If you have people you love, tell them you love them while you can,” Russ said.
Channel 9 learned that the Charlotte Flight Rules District Office with the FAA began investigating the crash site on Tuesday. The local FAA is responsible for reviewing other safety standards for this flight, including flight history, pilot training, and any audio recordings. The NTSB, on the other hand, will be a “recommending authority,” meaning they will go in and determine the probable cause of the accident.
The NTSB said a preliminary report could be released within four to six weeks, but the final report could take 12 to 24 months to release.
An NTSB investigator was expected to arrive Tuesday night and work through Wednesday morning, an agency spokesman said.
The remains will be recovered and taken to an off-site location for further analysis.
The helicopter was a Robinson R-44. Channel 9 asked Bryan Burns, the president of the Air Charter Safety Foundation, about the plane itself.
“It’s a very airworthy and very solid training aircraft, typically for flight schools where people are trying to get their helicopter license,” Burns said.
The NTSB’s final report will likely contain a probable cause of the crash, along with any contributing factors.
The sky was clear and conditions were relatively calm when the accident occurred.
ABC News aviation expert Jim Nance said it may not matter.
“Helicopters are very affected by the wind, so just because there are clear skies above it doesn’t tell the whole story to me,” Nance said.
He said the helicopters are “incredibly safe”.
“But when something goes wrong, because it’s a helicopter, our attention is fixed on what happened,” Nance said.
This is a developing story. Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.
(WATCH BELOW: 2 Dead After Florida Homemade Helicopter Crashes)
©2022 Cox Media Group