CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – There is a trove of memories of his time at WBTV Television on Eric Thomas’s coffee table.
Thomas was chief meteorologist at the station for decades before retiring in December.
As a retirement gift, he received a book filled with notes and pictures–some of which now hold a more profound meaning because of who he is pictured with, Jason Myers.
“I’m still hearing from a lot of people,” said Thomas. “And I’m still in contact with Jillian, his wife, but the pain is still very raw right now.”
Since Tuesday’s deadly crash involving WBTV’s helicopter along the shoulder of Interstate 77 in southwest Charlotte, which killed Myers and pilot Chip Tayag, tributes and memories have poured in, particularly from people who worked with both–either at the station or in other television markets or arenas.
Thomas noted that he only knew Tayag in passing, but he did play a key role in bringing Myers to Charlotte.
Thomas said all the tributes pouring in for both show the content of their character. But with Myers, Thomas said the words given are not just platitudes.
“Jason was a unique man among men, period,” said Thomas. “He cared about everybody on every level, whether it was walking down the hall and literally stopping people and asking how they were doing. It wasn’t a ‘hey, how are you?’ You could feel it. He really cared about everybody.”
Thomas, as a chief meteorologist, played a role in bringing Myers to Charlotte three years ago.
After jobs in Virginia and Kentucky, Thomas said Myers was eager to return home to the Charlotte area, as he was from Salisbury and lived all over the Charlotte area growing up.
“He gave up the prestige of being chief meteorologist in Lexington, Kentucky, to come to WBTV as a weekend meteorologist and that just says it all on how much he wanted to come back home to the Carolinas and serve people that were his people,” Thomas said.
One of the notes left in Thomas’s retirement book was a letter from Myers.
Thomas read the letter to Queen City News in full:
Wow, I can’t believe the day has come for you to retire. I am going to miss you so much. You have truly been my favorite person to work with in all the jobs I’ve had since I can remember. Your fun nature, happy spirit, and friendliness are such a draw and attraction to everyone around you.
You have been an inspiration to me and so many others. I remember watching you on WBTV while growing up in Charlotte, and it has been a dream come true to now be able to work with you and be part of your weather team.
In addition to being an amazing coworker, you have been a true friend and have aspects of an older brother I admire, an uncle who makes me laugh, and a dad whom I respect. I would not be the person I am today without you in my life.
You have made such an incredible impact on me, and my career and I thank God for the blessing of being able to work with you. I know you will continue to stay busy after ending this chapter and starting your next chapter, yet I want us to remain close friends through the years to come.
WBTV is never going to be the same place without you here. There is only one Eric Thomas, and no one can take your place or fill your shoes. Your legacy at WBTV will continue to live on, and I will always cherish the time we had working together.
I hope this next chapter brings true joy, fun times, and more times with friends and family. You deserve only the best, and I know you will continue to succeed and conquer anything you set your mind to.
I look forward to hanging out more in the future.
Your friend always,