A large tree has fallen onto a vehicle on a highway in North Carolina, killing two journalists who were covering severe weather in the area, local officials say.
The accident happened at about 2:30 p.m. ET on Monday when Mike McCormick, an anchor for NBC affiliate WYFF, and photojournalist Aaron Smeltzer were driving in their SUV on Highway 176 in Polk County.
Tryon Fire Chief Geoffrey Tennant described what happened as a “freak of nature,” saying he had never been called to a similar accident. He had been interviewed by McCormick just 10 minutes before the accident.
“We had talked a little bit about how he wanted us to stay safe and how we wanted him to stay safe,” Chief Tennant said. “And 10 or 15 minutes later we get the call, and it’s him and his photographer.”
WYFF-TV expressed its shock at the sudden deaths of their colleagues.
“All of us at WYFF News 4 are grieving,” the station said on its website. “We are a family and we thank you, our extended family, for your comfort as we mourn and as we seek to comfort the families of Mike and Aaron.”