News anchor Mike McCormick and photojournalist Aaron Smeltzer were killed on Monday. A tree fell on their car in Tryon, North Carolina while they were investigating subtropical storm Alberto’s impact.
According to The State, the WYFF-TV vehicle was crushed around 2:30 p.m. on U.S. Highway 176, at an area inundated with rain. The station confirmed McCormick and Smeltzer were “covering the rain impact in the area” when the incident took their lives. The tree fell around the same area where a rain-induced landslide killed a woman in her home earlier this month.
“Mike and Aaron were stellar journalists, dedicated to covering news in this market,” said John Humphries, WYFF 4 president and general manager. “They were beloved members of our newsroom, and we will miss them tremendously. Today is a difficult day, and there will be many more ahead.” WYFF anchor Carol Goldsmith commemorated the fallen journalists on air, stating they were “beloved members of our team—our family.”
WYFF is a Greenville, South Carolina–based station, but Tryon is right across the border, in North Carolina's Polk County.
McCormick, a Floridian, started his career at WYFF as a reporter in 2007, and became an anchor in 2014. Smeltzer, who was from Tazewell, Virginia, only started as a photojournalist for WYFF earlier this year, though he had covered news for more than a decade.
“All of us at WYFF News 4 are grieving,” the station wrote. “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.”