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The Charlotte Observer - March 10, 2023

‘Seeking answers.’ Family of WBTV meteorologist killed in helicopter crash files lawsuit

The family of Jason Myers, the WBTV meteorologist killed in a November helicopter crash along I-77 in Charlotte, filed a lawsuit Thursday that raises concerns about contaminated fuel and improper maintenance of the helicopter engine.

Jillian Myers filed the lawsuit in Mecklenburg County Superior Court against Wilson Air Center, a maintenance facility, TTWN Media Network and iHeartMedia, which owned and operated the helicopter, according to the complaint.

Pilot Chip Tayag also died when the Sky3 news helicopter crashed near southbound I-77 on Nov. 22, 2022.

The lawsuit contends Charlotte-based Wilson Air Center put contaminated fuel into the helicopter and should have known that contaminants in fuel caused at least 11 other helicopter crashes in the country since 2013. On Friday, Vince Papke, general manager at Wilson Air Center, declined to comment.

Among the lawsuit’s claims, lawyer Gary Robb for the Myers family alleges an unnamed mechanic failed to diagnose maintenance issues and “signed off on an unairworthy helicopter.” The lawsuit also contends Tayag improperly inspected the helicopter before the Nov. 22 flight and failed to perform in-flight emergency procedures for engine failure, among other claims.

According to the lawsuit, iHeartMedia and its affiliated TTWN Media Networks LLC are liable for the men’s deaths because of “negligent and careless piloting, operation and maintenance” of the helicopter.

iHeartMedia contracted with WBTV News to operate Sky3 through its TTWN company, which employed Tayag and the unnamed mechanic. The companies are based in San Antonio, Texas.

Asked for his response to the lawsuit, Tayag’s brother, Tristan Tayag, said in an email Friday that he’s been “consistently praying for Chip and Jason and for all those who love them, especially Kerry and Jillian. May the Holy Spirit guide and comfort them. We miss Chip dearly.“

He said the family’s pastor on Sunday will offer a Mass “for the soul of Jason Myers.” The family previously held a funeral Mass for Tayag. He was buried in Maryland.

Tristan Tayag told the Observer Friday: “My family attends the 9:15 am mass on Sundays and as it turns out March 12 was the first available 9:15 am mass when I made the request back around January. I thought the timing was more than coincidence … God is constantly at work in our lives!”

A Mass for the soul in a Catholic church typically is similar to other Mass services but holds a specific prayer for the repose of one’s soul.

Officials with iHeartMedia and TTWN Media Networks couldn’t be reached Friday.

The Myers family lawsuit seeks damages to be determined by a jury.

“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 Robb, the lawyer for Myers’ family, in a statement Thursday night.


The National Transportation Safety Board did not provide an exact cause for the crash in a preliminary report released Dec. 6.

The helicopter took off around after 11:50 a.m. for a training flight to simulate a news story, according to Myers’ family. It crashed seven minutes later.

The helicopter performed three left 360-degree turns before rapidly descending and crashing in a grassy area near the southbound lanes, according to the report.

The NTSB said Tayag communicated with air traffic control but never issued a distress call, The Observer reported. When the helicopter landed, there was no evidence of fire, the report said.

The NTSB’s investigation continues.

In his statement, Robb said, “The Myers family is most grateful for the outpouring of love, support and prayers from the greater Charlotte community.”

Robb is an aviation attorney based in Kansas City, Missouri, who was lead counsel for Vanessa Bryant after her husband, NBA legend Kobe Bryant and her daughter, Gianna, died in a California helicopter crash.


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