Meteorologist, Pilot Dead in Helicopter Crash

23 Nov, 2022 Liz Carey


Charlotte, NC ( - Two employees of WBTV, a meteorologist and a helicopter pilot, are dead after a crash in Charlotte. 

Authorities are heralding the pilot as a hero for avoiding traffic, even though both men died in the accident. Officials said it's not clear yet what happened. 

Jason Myers, the meteorologist, and his pilot, Chip Tayag were killed in the crash, WBTV said in a statement.

“The WBTV family is grieving a terrible loss. Our news helicopter Sky3 crashed mid-day Tuesday with two of our colleagues on board,” WBTV 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.” 

Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings officers were notified about the crash around 12 p.m. on Nov. 22. Upon arrival they found a helicopter crashed on the side of the road, and both passengers deceased. No other vehicles were involved in the crash, he said, and no one else was injured. 

Jennings said the pilot's actions seemed to indicate that he diverted the helicopter to avoid hitting traffic. Witnesses said the helicopter circled the road twice before crashing on the side of the road. 

“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 on the road was not in jeopardy, ” he said. 

I-77 was closed, Jennings said, and was expected to remain closed through the night.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration have been called in to investigate the crash, Jennings said. 

Condolences from the North Carolina state government to the Carolina Panthers commented on the death of the two men. 

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper tweeted, “This is a terrible tragedy for the WBTV family and we are praying for them and all of those in the media who work so hard to keep the public informed.”

WBTV said Myers had grown up watching the station and had worked in Texas, Kentucky and Virginia before returning to the Charlotte area in 2019. Tayag came to the station in 2017,

WBTV said, and worked as an ENG pilot for the helicopter. He had more than 20 years as a pilot, the station said. 

The crash bring to 11 the number of news helicopter crash fatalities over the past 20 years. 

The most recent fatal news helicopter crash occurred on Nov. 16, 2017 when a KRQE-TV helicopter crashed in Carrizozo, New Mexico. Pilot Bob Martin, the only person on board, was killed when the helicopter crashed. 

In March of 2014, two people died and one was injured when the KOMO-TV helicopter in Seattle, Washington crashed during take-off. Video of the incident showed the helicopter's tail rotor failing as it lifted off the station's helipad. It then fell to the ground and caught fire. 

In October 2008, the KTRK-TV helicopter crashed in Montgomery County, Texas, killing two. Reports at the time said the helicopter lost engine power while traveling over a heavily wooded area. The aircraft lost altitude and hit a bank of trees and the ground, catching fire. John Downhower, 43, the pilot and Dave Garrett, 36, a photographer were identified as the victims. 

And in July 2007, two helicopters from KNXV-TV and KTVK collided killing four, the deadliest news helicopter accident of the 21st Century. In that crash, the two helicopters were circling Phoenix to cover a police pursuit live, when they ran into each other. KNXV-TV photographer Rick Krolak and pilot Craig Smith, and KTVK photographer Jim Cox and pilot Scott Bowerbank were killed in that crash. 

NTSB determined the cause of the accident to be the pilots' failure to "see and avoid the other helicopter." Additionally, the NTSB said the stations' electronic news gathering (ENG) operations contributed to the crash, as did the "lack of formal procedures for Phoenix-area ENG pilots to follow regarding the conduct of these operations."

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    About The Author

    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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