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Journalists killed while covering heavy rain in South Carolina

By Ray Downs
Journalists killed while covering heavy rain in South Carolina
WYFF-TV journalists Aaron Smeltzer and Mike McCormick were killed while covering weather in the Charleston, S.C., area on Monday. Image courtesy WYFF

May 28 (UPI) -- Two television journalists in South Carolina were killed when a tree fell on them while they were covering weather conditions in the Charleston area.

WYFF-TV anchor Mike McCormick and photojournalist Aaron Smeltzer were on a highway covering heavy rains in Polk County, S.C., when a tree 3 feet in diameter fell onto their vehicle.

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Tryon Fire Chief Geoffrey Tennant said he'd given an interview with the two journalists just minutes before he got a call about the accident.

"It personally affected me a little bit because I had done an interview with Mr. McCormick about 10 minutes before we got the call," Tennant said. "And we had talked a little bit about how he wanted us to stay safe and I wanted him to stay safe and, of course, 10 or 15 minutes later we got the call and it was him and his photographer.

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"It's the first time I ever met either one of those two gentleman, but you feel a sense of responsibility to them."

WYFF-TV co-anchor Carol Goldsmith announced the death of her colleagues on a Monday night newscast.

"Mike and Aaron were beloved members of our team, our family," she said. "All of us here at WYFF 4 are grieving. We are a family. And you, our extended family, we thank you for your comfort as we mourn and as we seek to comfort the families."

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Both men were in their mid-30s. McCormick had worked at WYFF for 11 years and Smeltzer recently joined after having worked at WSPA-TV in Charleston for several years.

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