CHARLOTTE – Two employees of a Charlotte television station were killed in a helicopter crash Tuesday afternoon in south Charlotte.
The crash happened near Interstate 77 at Nations Ford Road. MEDIC confirmed that two people died at the scene.
At around 3 pm on Tuesday, WBTV released a statement confirming that it was the radio station’s helicopter that was involved in the crash.
“The WBTV family is deeply saddened by this loss. Our Sky3 news helicopter crashed Tuesday night with two crew members 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 are grateful for the support of our staff and pray for their families. “
The FAA released a statement Tuesday regarding the crash: “A Robinson R44 aircraft crashed near I-77 South and Nations Ford Road in Charlotte, NC, at approximately 12:20 p.m. local time today. There were two people on board. The FAA and The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. The NTSB is overseeing the investigation and will issue further updates. There is no agency that notifies people involved in plane crashes.”
CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings said the pilot is a hero in his eyes.
“It appears that the pilot took action to avoid hitting the traffic,” Jennings said.
Investigators remained at the scene late into the night and some lanes on I-77 were reopened.
‘That helicopter went down’: Witnesses tell of the moment investigators searched for evidence
Carolyn Russ was driving down Interstate 77 when she saw the accident happen. He told Channel 9 that the helicopter landed on his side.
“It was flying side to side … and I knew right away that the helicopter was going to crash,” Russ told Channel 9.
“It started making noise and it turned around and started going north, and it just landed on the side of the highway next to my car,” Russ added.
Witness Bridget-Ann Hampden said there was no smoke or fire and the crash was “remarkably quiet.”
He added that it appeared the pilot had moved away from the busy area.
“I think he deliberately deviated from the main road because he landed. “He didn’t get five feet from the street I lived on,” Hampden said.
Hampden said the pilot was a hero.
“Honestly, he probably saved my life,” Hampden said. “Because I don’t know what would have happened, you know? He was close to me.”
Russ said his heart goes out to the Tayag and Myers families and their WBTV family.
“If you have people you love, tell them you love them when you can,” Russ said.
Channel 9 learned that the Charlotte Flight Standards District Office and the FAA began the search Tuesday. The local FAA is responsible for conducting safety inspections of the aircraft, including flight history, pilot training, and any hearings. The NTSB, on the other hand, will be an “advisory authority,” meaning they will come to determine what may have caused the accident.
The NTSB said a preliminary report could be completed within four to six weeks, but a final report could take 12-24 months to be released.
An NTSB investigator is expected to arrive Tuesday night and work through Wednesday morning, an agency spokeswoman said.
The damage will be recovered and taken to an offsite location for further evaluation.
The helicopter was a Robinson R-44. Channel 9 asked Bryan Burns, president of the Air Charter Safety Foundation, about the plane.
“It’s a very good, very tough aircraft for flight training, especially for flight schools where people are testing their helicopter license,” Burns said.
The NTSB’s final report must include the cause of the accident, as well as any contributing factors.
The sky was clear and calm when the accident happened.
ABC News aviation expert Jim Nance said it may not matter.
“Helicopter boots are very sensitive to wind, so just because the sky is bright, it doesn’t tell the whole story,” Nance said.
He said helicopters are “very safe.”
“But when it’s critical, because it’s a helicopter, our focus is on what happened,” Nance said.
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