Live updates: Helicopter crash on Interstate 77 in Charlotte

A pilot and meteorologist with the WBTV news station in Charlotte died in a helicopter crash around noon Tuesday in Charlotte, off Interstate 77 South.

Just after 3:00 pm, WBTV confirmed that the victims were meteorologist Jason Myers and Sky3 pilot Chip Tayag.

The crash happened in a grassy area just off the highway, close to Tyvola and Nations Ford Road, according to Medic and other emergency officials. Three other people were transported to the hospital, Medic reported.

The crash has shut down the southbound lanes of Interstate 77.

“The WBTV family is grieving a terrible loss,” the station said in a statement. “Our news helicopter Sky3 crashed mid-day Tuesday with two of our colleagues on board. Meteorologist Jason Myers and pilot Chip Tayag lost their lives. 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.”

Myers is from in Union and Catawba counties and married his childhood sweetheart, they have four children, WBTV said. Tayag came to WBTV five years ago as an ENG pilot operating Sky3. He had been a pilot for more than 20 years.

Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, both federal agencies, are expected to arrive in Charlotte in response to the crash. Until investigators arrive and can access the scene, it’s expected the interstate’s southbound lanes will remain closed in the area.

The road closure could last through the night, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Jennings said CMPD, the State Highway Patrol and Charlotte Fire will be maintaining the scene until investigators arrive.

“Tragically there are two people involved in this crash that will not be going home, will not be spending the holidays with their families,” Jennings said. He asked for prayers for the families.

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A map of where a helicopter crash occurred on I-77 in south Charlotte Tuesday. The exclamation points show the location of the crash and a closed interstate ramp. This screenshot taken around 1 pm shows deeper shades of red when traffic is more severely congested. DriveNC.gov

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The remains of a helicopter sit to the right side of I-77 South past the Tyvola Road exit on Tuesday, November 22, 2022. Two people were confirmed dead in the crash, which involved a WBTV helicopter. Jeff Siner jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Helicopter crash in Charlotte

What caused the crash is not yet known. The police chief said there’s no indication there was a fire.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police received a call that the WBTV helicopter crashed just before noon, according to emergency radio communications via Broadcastify. A general alarm activated multiple engines and personnel with Charlotte Fire.

The crash happened between exits 4 and 5 on I-77 south.

A witness to the crash told WCNC the pilot attempted to save lives.

“My impression is that he apparently knew he was in trouble,” the man told WCNC Charlotte.

“He circled looking for a place to put that down. And on the second circle, I don’t think he had any choice, it was going down, and he got it just off the highway and avoided it. That could’ve injured a lot of people. It’s a tragic thing, but in that sense, he did a marvelous job.”

Jennings said it seems the pilot made “diversionary moves” to avoid hitting traffic. He called the pilot a hero and said the helicopter didn’t hit any vehicles in the roadway.

“It looks like a heroic incident where the pilot tried to avoid injuring anyone else, or putting anyone else in danger,” Jennings said.

FAA helicopter crash investigation

The FAA sent a statement about the crash via email. The agency said the aircraft was a Robinson R44 helicopter and two people were on board.

“The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate,” the FAA said. “The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and will provide additional updates. Neither agency identifies people involved in aircraft accidents.”

After investigators verify the aircraft registration number at the scene, the FAA will release it on this webpage, the statement said.

This is a developing story.

This story was originally published November 22, 2022 12:35 PM.

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Kallie Cox covers public safety for The Charlotte Observer. They grew up in Springfield, Illinois and attended school at SIU Carbondale. They reported on police accountability and LGBTQ immigration barriers for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. And, they previously worked at The Southern Illinoisan before moving to Charlotte.

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