CHARLOTTE – Two employees with a Charlotte television station died in a helicopter crash that occurred Tuesday afternoon in south Charlotte.
The accident happened near Interstate 77 at Nations Ford Road. MEDIC confirmed that two people were pronounced dead at the scene.
At about 3pm on Tuesday, WBTV released a statement confirming that it was the station’s helicopter involved in the crash.
“The WBTV family is deeply saddened by this loss. Our Sky3 news helicopter went down on Tuesday 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 employees 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, NC, around 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 oversee the investigation and provide further updates. No agency has identified people involved in the plane crash.”
CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings said the driver is a hero in his eyes.
“It looks like the pilot who was operating the plane made some maneuvers to avoid the traffic,” Jennings said.
Investigators remained on the scene overnight with some lanes of I-77 reopened.
‘Helicopter will crash’: Witnesses recount moment as investigators dig through evidence
Carolyn Russ was driving on Interstate 77 when she saw the accident unfold. He told Channel 9 the helicopter went to the right of him.
“It was flying side by side … and I knew immediately that the helicopter was going to crash,” Russ told Channel 9.
“It started nosediving and it turned around and started going north, and it just hit the ground right on the highway next to my car,” Russ added.
Witness Bridget-Ann Hampden said there was no smoke or fire and the wreck was “very quiet.”
He said it appeared the driver was running out of state.
“I think he deliberately left the highway because when he landed. It’s not more than five feet from the lane I’m in,” Hampden said.
Hampden said the pilot was a hero.
“Frankly, it would have saved my life,” Hampden said. “Because I’m not sure what’s going to happen, you know? He is very close to me.”
Russ said his heart goes out to the families of Tayag and Myers and their WBTV family.
“If you have people you love, tell them you love them when you can,” Russ said.
Channel 9 has learned that the Charlotte Flight Standards District Office with the FAA began reporting the crash site Tuesday. The FAA regionally oversees other safety aspects of this flight, including flight history, pilot training, and all audio recordings. The NTSB, on the other hand, will be the “consulting authority,” meaning they will come in and determine the cause of the crash.
The NTSB said a preliminary report could be issued in four to six weeks, but the final report will take 12-24 months to be released.
An NTSB investigator was expected to arrive Tuesday night and work until Wednesday morning, an agency spokeswoman said.
The wreckage will be recovered and taken to an off-site location for further analysis.
The helicopter is a Robinson R-44. Channel 9 asked Bryan Burns, president of the Air Charter Safety Foundation, about the plane itself.
“It’s a decent airplane, very good training, mostly for the flight schools that people are testing their pilot’s license in,” Burns said.
The NTSB’s final report will likely include the cause of the crash, as well as any supporting evidence.
The sky was clear and the conditions were calm when the incident happened.
ABC News aviation expert Jim Nance said there may not be a problem.
“The helicopter is affected by the wind, so just because it’s a clear sky overhead, doesn’t tell me the whole story,” Nance said.
He said the helicopters were “incredibly safe.”
“But when something goes wrong, because it’s a helicopter, our thoughts are riveted to what’s going on,” Nance said.
This is a made up story. Back with wsoctv.com does for updates.
(See below: 2 dead after helicopter crashes in Florida)
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