Wife sues over meteorologist’s death in NC helicopter crash

Published 11:55 pm Friday, March 10, 2023

By Ben Finley
Associated Press

The family of a meteorologist who was killed last year in a helicopter crash in North Carolina is suing a maintenance facility and the companies that owned and operated the aircraft.

The complaint filed this week in Mecklenburg County Court in Charlotte alleges negligence and claims the helicopter was running on contaminated fuel, which can lead to engine failure.

The lawsuit alleges the pilot didn’t perform flight inspections and emergency engine failure procedures adequately. It argues the company that owned the aircraft is liable for those mistakes.

Meteorologist Jason Myers and pilot Chip Tayag died in November after the Robinson R44 helicopter crashed along a Charlotte-area interstate. Police praised the pilot for saving lives of drivers by avoiding the roadway.

Meyers worked for Charlotte-area news channel WBTV and Tayag worked for the Total Traffic and Weather Network, which is owned by parent company iHeartMedia, the lawsuit states.

Myers’ wife, Jillian Ann Myers, is suing maintenance facility Wilson Air Center-North Carolina, the Total Traffic and Weather Network and iHeartMedia.

Vince Papke, general manager for the air center in North Carolina, declined to comment. iHeartMedia did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The lawsuit “is about seeking answers as to what caused the helicopter crash and to hold the responsible parties fully accountable for Jason’s death,” said Gary Robb, Jillian Myers’ attorney, in a statement.

Robb represented Vanessa Bryant, the widow of basketball star Kobe Bryant, in her wrongful death lawsuit against the pilot and owners of the helicopter that crashed in 2020, killing the NBA star and eight others. It was settled last year under confidential terms.

Myers, the meteorologist, was raised in North Carolina’s Union and Catawba counties and worked in the city of Raleigh, and in Texas and Virginia before returning to the Charlotte area where he grew up, WBTV said in November. He was survived by his wife and four children.

The family is seeking compensatory damages, including his net income, in excess of $25,000 as well as punitive damages.

Tayag had been a pilot for more than 20 years, the station said. According to witness reports, Tayag prevented the helicopter from crashing onto Interstate-77 during a busy week of holiday travel.

“The pilot is a hero in my eyes,” said Johnny Jennings, chief of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, in a statement on the day of the crash.