Journalists killed by falling tree during storm had interviewed fire chief minutes before ‘freak’ accident

Posted on: May 29th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

WYFF-TV(GREENVILLE, S.C.) — A South Carolina TV news station is in mourning after two journalists covering subtropical storm Alberto were killed when a tree fell on their car.

The large tree — about 3 feet in diameter — fell at least 30 feet as anchor Michael McCormick and photojournalist Aaron Smeltzer were in a car on a highway in Polk County, North Carolina, on Monday afternoon, Tryon Fire Department Chief Geoffrey Tennant said.

The engine was running when rescue crews reached the car, Tennant said.

“I have never seen an event like this one,” Tennant said, calling it a “freak of nature.”

“I had done an interview with Mr. McCormick about 10 minutes before we got the call,” Tennant said at a news conference Monday. “And we had talked a little bit about how he wanted us to stay safe and how we wanted him to stay safe.”

McCormick and Smeltzer worked for WYFF-TV, an NBC station in Greenville, South Carolina.

“Our hearts are broken,” WYFF-TV anchor Carol Goldsmith wrote on Twitter. “These fine two co-workers died today when a tree fell on their news vehicle. They were covering flooding in Polk Co. Rest In Peace. May the angels lead you home.”

“You will not meet a kinder, more professional, joyous and giving person than [McCormick],” tweeted WYFF-TV anchor Allyson Powell. “I am better for knowing him.”

Journalists from other news stations, as well as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, also shared their condolences.

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