WYFF, the NBC-affiliated station in Greenville, South Carolina, is mourning the loss of two journalists who died while on assignment in the region on Monday.
Anchor Mike McCormick and photojournalist Aaron Smeltzer were out covering hazardous weather conditions in Polk County, North Carolina, when a tree crushed their news van, the station reported and both men were killed.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the two died as a result of storm-related conditions. Heavy rain, partly from the fringes of subtropical storm Alberto, has caused flooding concerns across the region. "The ground is saturated," Geoff Tennant, the fire chief in Tyron, North Carolina, told reporters Monday evening.
The incident occurred around 2:30 p.m. Tennant said the news crew was driving on Highway 176 when the tree collapsed on the vehicle. "It is a freak of nature. You know it's going to happen, you don't know when" he said.
Tennant had just taped an interview with McCormick. "We talked a little bit about how he wanted us to stay safe and we wanted him to stay safe. Then of course 10 or 15 minutes later we get the call and it was him and his photographer" Tennant said.