Two dead in helicopter crash near Interstate 77 in south Charlotte – WSOC TV

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.

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Around 3pm on Tuesday, WBTV issued a statement confirming that it was the station’s helicopter that was involved in the crash.

“The WBTV family is experiencing a terrible loss. Our Sky3 news helicopter crashed Tuesday afternoon along with two of our colleagues,” WBTV said in a statement. “Meteorologist Jason Myers and pilot Chip Tyag lost their lives. We are working to comfort their families at this difficult time. We appreciate the outpouring of support for our staff and your continued prayers for their families.”

The FAA released a statement on Tuesday about the accident, saying: “A Robinson R44 helicopter crashed near I-77 South and Nations Ford Road in Charlotte, NC at approximately 12:20 p.m. local time. There were two people on the plane. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. The NTSB will monitor the investigation and provide further updates. Neither agency is releasing the identities of the people involved in the plane crashes.”

CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings said the pilot is a hero in his eyes.

“It appears that the pilot who was flying the aircraft made some swerves to avoid hitting traffic,” Jennings said.

Investigators remained on the scene overnight and some lanes of I-77 were reopened.

“That helicopter is going to crash.” eyewitnesses recount moments when investigators dig for evidence;

Carolyn Russ was driving on Interstate 77 when she saw the extent of the accident. He told Channel 9 the helicopter landed right next to him.

“It was kind of flying side to side … and I knew immediately that the helicopter was going to crash,” Russ told Channel 9.

“It nosed and turned and started going north and it hit the ground right on the freeway right by my car,” Russ added.

Witness Bridget-Anne Hampden said there was no smoke or fire and the wreck was “eerily quiet”.

He said it appeared the pilot had veered off the busy interstate.

“I really feel that he deliberately veered off the highway because when he landed. He wasn’t more than five feet from the lane I was in,” Hampden said.

Hampden said the pilot was a hero.

“Honestly, he might save my life,” Hampden said. “Because I’m not sure what would have happened, you know? He was so close to me.’

Russ said his heart goes out to the Tyag and Myers families and their WBTV family.

“If you have people you love, tell them you love them while you can,” Russ said.

The investigation

Channel 9 has learned that the Charlotte Flight Standards District Office along with the FAA began investigating the crash site on Tuesday. The local FAA is responsible for reviewing other safety criteria for this flight, including flight history, pilot training, and any audio recordings. The NTSB, on the other hand, would be a “committing authority,” meaning they would come in and determine the probable cause of the accident.

The NTSB says a preliminary report could be released within four to six weeks, but a final report could take 12 to 24 months.

An NTSB investigator was expected to arrive Tuesday night and work through Wednesday morning, an agency spokesman said.

Debris will be removed and transported off-site for further analysis.

The helicopter was a Robinson R-44. Channel 9 asked Brian Burns, president of the Air Charter Safety Foundation, about the plane itself.

“It’s a very flyable, very robust training aircraft, usually for flight schools where people are trying to get a helicopter license,” Burns said.

The NTSB’s final report will likely contain the probable cause of the crash as well as all contributing factors.

At the time of the accident, the sky was clear and the conditions were relatively calm.

ABC News aviation expert Jim Nance said it may not matter.

“Helicopters are very affected by the wind, so just because it’s a clear sky above doesn’t tell me the whole story,” Nance said.

He said helicopters are “incredibly safe”.

“But when something goes wrong, because it’s a helicopter, our focus is on what happened,” Nance said.

This is a developing story. Check back wsoctv.com for updates.

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