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Family sues iHeartMedia over TV news helicopter crash

The family of a television meteorologist who was killed in a helicopter crash last year has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against iHeartMedia and the maintenance firm connected to the doomed aircraft.

The lawsuit stems from a crash that killed WBTV (Channel 13, CBS) meteorologist Jason Myers and pilot Chip Tayag last November. Myers and Tayag were flying a Robinson R-44 helicopter when the crash occurred just outside the television station’s studios in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Police initially praised Tayag for steering the helicopter away from a busy freeway just before the crash, which likely saved lives. But the lawsuit filed last week said Tayag — who worked for the Total Traffic and Weather Network, a subsidiary of iHeartMedia — was complicit in the crash because he allegedly failed to perform pre-flight inspections that day. It wasn’t clear how the plaintiffs in the case came to that conclusion.

The lawsuit also claims a company tasked with maintaining the helicopter, Wilson Air Center North Carolina, didn’t check the aircraft’s fuel for possible contaminants. At the time, aviation experts had warned of potential aircraft fuel contamination along the East Coast of the United States.

Gary Robb, the attorney representing the Myers family, said the lawsuit was intended to provide answers “as to what caused the helicopter crash and to hold the responsible parties fully accountable for Jason’s death.” The attorney previously represented the family of basketball star Kobe Bryant in a lawsuit filed against a helicopter company after Bryant and his daughter were killed in a helicopter crash three years ago.

The lawsuit filed by the Myers family does not name the station as a defendant, nor does it allege WBTV was responsible for the meteorologist’s death. WBTV is owned by Nexstar Media Group.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).