CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A helicopter pilot and a meteorologist who worked for a North Carolina television station died Tuesday following the crash of the station’s helicopter next to an interstate highway in the Charlotte area, according to the authorities and news station WBTV.
WBTV broadcasters who had been reporting on the crash identified their colleagues through cracked voices on air about three hours following the deadly incident. The men were identified as meteorologist Jason Myers and pilot Chip Tayag.
Mecklenburg County EMS service said Tuesday on Twitter that two people were pronounced dead at the scene of the helicopter crash along Interstate 77.
Police said that no vehicles were involved in the incident, while federal authorities stated that two people were onboard the aircraft.
Preliminary witness accounts indicate that the pilot made some “diversionary” maneuvers and “tried to avoid injuring anyone else” and “probably saved some lives,” Johnny Jennings, chief of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, told reporters.
“And if that is truly the case, then that pilot is a hero in my eyes to make sure that the safety and security of those that were driving was not in jeopardy,” Jennings said.
The chief added: “We’re looking at going into the holiday season where we’re supposed to be spending time with our loved ones. And tragically, there are two people involved in this crash that will not be going home and will not be spending the holidays with their family.”
Two people were on board the Robinson R44 helicopter, which crashed around 12:20 p.m. local time, according to a statement from the The Federal Aviation Administration.
The National Transportation Safety Board will lead an investigation into the crash along with the FAA.
The crash shut down southbound lanes of the Interstate.