Television viewers are mourning the loss of WBTV meteorologist Jason Myers and the station’s helicopter pilot Chip Tayag following a fatal helicopter crash Tuesday.
The WBTV news helicopter crashed shortly before noon local time, according to The Charlotte Observer. Though the cause of the crash is unknown, police said there was no evidence of fire. The crash happened near Interstate 77, shutting down most of the southbound lanes, but no other vehicles were involved.
“It looks like a heroic incident where the pilot tried to avoid injuring anyone else, or putting anyone else in danger,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings said, crediting Tayag with making “diversionary moves” to avoid other vehicles. Three other people were sent to the hospital, the Observer reports, but no information is available on their condition.
Jennings reiterated Tayag’s heroism in a tweet.
“The pilot is a hero in my eyes. Witnesses indicated that the pilot made diversionary moves away from the highway to save lives. Because of his heroic acts, there were no further injuries or vehicles on the highway involved in the incident,” he wrote.
WBTV shared the news of the deaths of Myers and Tayag after making sure their families had been informed.
Tayag had been a pilot for 20 years, WBTV said, and had been with the station as a contractor for the past five. Myers left behind his wife, Jillian, and their four kids, according to WBTV. The station aired a tribute at their 4:30 p.m. newscast where the anchors shared their grief.
“You don’t ever plan to cover a helicopter crash where your two friends are on board and you’re figuring it out on live TV,” WBTV anchor Molly Grantham said.
Many people, including from other television stations in the market, shared their tributes to Myers and Tayag.
“In awe of the leadership in grieving and processing I see from @jamiebollwbtv @mollygrantham mourning the loss of two family members. My heart goes out to Jason Myers’ family, Chip Tayag’s family and the entire @WBTV_News newsroom,” WCNC-TV anchor Fred Shopshire tweeted.
“Chip Tayag and Jason Myers are irreplacable. Chip was a damn good pilot and calmed my first flight fears. Jason’s smile and kindness always brightened my day. He elevated atitudes. I miss them. This community misses them. Let’s be there for their families and loved ones,” WBTV investigative reporter David Hodges shared.
“#RIP @WBTV_News meteorologist Jason Myers who was one of the men who died today in a helicopter crash on I-77 S 🙏🏾 I use to work with Jason during his time at @8NEWS,” WJLA-TV video editor Ron Carthen wrote. “he couldn’t have been a more nicer person. Prayers to his wife Jillian, his four daughters, and others”
“Our thoughts are with our friends at WBTV on the loss of Jason Myers and Chip Tayag. We will have a moment of silence at tonight’s Tree Lighting in their honor,” the Carolina Panthers tweeted.
“Jason Myers was the epitome of positive energy. Always friendly. Always kind. Always willing to help. He was a man of faith – strong faith – and you could see the love of God shine through him. Jason went out of his way to make other people’s days better, easier, and happier,” former WBTV journalist Maddie Garnder tweeted, along side a photo with Myers.
“Chip was so much fun. I had long-dreamed of flying in Sky3 (even as an intern) and was over the moon during my first flight last year with him. It was over the Christmas lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Chip matched my energy in the air,” she added. “We sang Christmas carols, talked about his wife and family, and he laughed at all of my ridiculous questions. Little did we know, the entire newsroom could hear our shenanigans. I didn’t know I had to switch the microphones off. Chip never let me make that mistake again.”