I-77 South reopens after deadly helicopter crash

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – The southbound lanes of Interstate 77 in south Charlotte have reopened after Tuesday’s helicopter crash that killed WBTV meteorologist Jason Myers and Sky 3 pilot Chip Tayag.

The crash happened in the area of I-77 near the Nations Ford Road exit. Two lanes reopened just before 4:30 p.m. Tuesday and the right lane was back open shortly before 10 a.m. Wednesday, according to transportation officials.

According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, congestion remains in the area and drivers are advised to stay alert and use caution when traveling through the area.

WBTV issued the following statement following the crash:

“The WBTV family is grieving a terrible loss. 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.”

Related: WBTV mourning the loss of meteorologist Jason Myers, pilot Chip Tayag

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the Robinson R44 helicopter crashed around 12:20 p.m. Tuesday.

Both the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate, agency officials said.

“The helicopter, operated by Total Traffic and Weather Network, took off from the WBTV helipad and proceeded south for about five miles. The aircraft was in contact with CLT Tower and obtained clearance to enter CLT air space. It proceeded to do two 360-degree turns over 1-77 before descending rapidly into the ground adjacent to the highway. The pilot and the other passenger sustained fatal injuries. CLT Tower received no distress calls from the pilot,” a statement read.

Preliminary reports from NTSB will be available within 2-3 weeks, the agency said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings said no vehicles on the interstate were involved in the crash and the helicopter crashed off to the side of the roadway.

In a tweet, Jennings called the pilot a hero, stating that witnesses indicated Tayag made “diversionary moves away from the highway to save lives.”

“Because of his heroic acts, there were no further injuries or vehicles on the highway involved in this incident,” Jennings said.

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