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News anchor, photo journalist die in 'freak of nature accident'

STAFF REPORTS
Published on Tuesday, May 29, 2018

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WYFF anchor/reporter Mike McCormick and photojournalist Aaron Smeltzer died Sunday when a tree fell on their station vehicle headed southbound near Tryon, N.C., on Highway 176.

WYFF

WYFF anchor/reporter Mike McCormick and photojournalist Aaron Smeltzer died Sunday when a tree fell on their station vehicle headed southbound near Tryon, N.C., on Highway 176.

WYFF confirmed two staff members were killed Monday afternoon in Polk County, N.C., while reporting on the impact of rain in the area.

Anchor/reporter Mike McCormick and photojournalist Aaron Smeltzer were identified by WYFF as the two people killed when a tree fell on their station vehicle headed southbound near Tryon, N.C., on Highway 176, according to the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

The crash happened about 2:30 p.m. A rescue worker, who had given the men an interview only 10 minutes before the tragedy, called it a “freak of nature” accident.

A large tree collapsed on the vehicle as it was still moving, a rescue worker said in a news conference. “It sat back off the road a good ways… it was probably three foot in diameter. The vehicle was apparently in motion. When we got to the vehicle, the engine was running, and the transmission was in drive.”

WYFF reported the accident on its Monday evening broadcast.

“All of us at WYFF 4 are grieving. We thank you for your comfort as we mourn. We ask that you keep Mike and Aaron's families in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” News Director Bruce Barkley stated in a media release.

McCormick began at WYFF in 2007 as a reporter in Spartanburg was also the weekend anchor for the station’s 6 and 11 p.m. shows.

McCormick graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in broadcast journalism and theatre arts.

Smeltzer, who lived in the Upstate for more than 10 years, began working with WYFF earlier this year. He previously worked at WSPA-TV reporting on stories in the Upstate. According to Smeltzer’s Facebook profile, Smeltzer is from Tazewell, Va., and graduated from Radford University with a degree in broadcast video communications.

 

 

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