Pilot credited with keeping others safe before deadly helicopter crash
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV/Gray News) - WBTV Sky 3 pilot Chip Tayag is being called a hero, with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings saying he believes Tayag took extraordinary measures in his final moments before the helicopter crashed on Interstate 77 Tuesday afternoon.
Both Tayag and WBTV meteorologist Jason Myers were killed in that crash.
“It seems the pilot that was operating the aircraft made some diversionary moves to avoid hitting traffic. Fortunately, there were no vehicles involved in it and I think that as we move forward, to me it looks like a heroic incident where the pilot tried to avoid injuring anyone else, in putting anyone else in danger,” Jennings said. “If that truly is the case, then that pilot is a hero in my eyes to make sure that the safety and security of those driving on the road was not in jeopardy.”
David Bristol, a pilot in training, likes to take a look on his back porch anytime he hears an aircraft overhead.
He said he watched the chopper make slow circles for a while and then he noticed two things he considered odd. First, he said the sound Sky 3 made seemed to change.
Then, he said he saw Sky 3 make two odd, hard turns to the left and suddenly disappeared behind the trees.
At the same time, Joshua Aguirre was driving south on I-77 when he saw the chopper spiral toward the road. He said it seemed that Tayag was able to use his last seconds to save others.
“It happened so fast, there was no time to react and so it was obvious that there was a huge level of heroism involved,” Aguirre said, adding he got out of his car and prayed over the crash site.
Bridgette-Anne Hampden said she had just gotten on I-77 near Tyvola Road when the helicopter came down right in front of her and she estimated it was within 100 feet of her car.
“Having had the opportunity to process, I really believe he was a hero because when you look at the proximity to the highway itself if that helicopter had come down, it would have been quite a chaotic scene,” she said. “And so, he needs to be applauded, because he (had) the presence of mind to veer off is what has been running through my mind.”
The crash happened shortly after 12 p.m. Tuesday on I-77 South at the Nations Ford Road exit in south Charlotte. All lanes were closed for hours, with traffic backed up for miles as crews evaluated the scene.
CMPD says investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will be working as they begin piecing together why the helicopter crashed.
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