News anchor, photojournalist killed when tree falls on SUV while covering storms in North Carolina

POLK COUNTY, N.C. — A news anchor and photojournalist for a Greenville, S.C. television station died after a tree fell on their sport utility vehicle as they covered storms in North Carolina.

WYFF reported that its News 4 anchor Mike McCormick and photojournalist Aaron Smeltzer died Monday.

The tree fell on their SUV on Highway 176 in Polk County as they covered rain impact in the area.

The SUV’s engine was running and the transmission was in drive when crews arrived at the scene about 2:30 p.m., according to Tryon Fire Chief Geoffrey Tennant.

He said the tree was about 3 feet in diameter and the ground was saturated.

“I have never seen an event like this one,” Tennant said.

McCormick had been with the station since 2007 and Smeltzer shot news for more than a decade in the region.

“All of us at WYFF News 4 are grieving. 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,” the station said in an article posted to its website.