WYFF-TV News 4, Greenville SC, anchor Mike McCormick and WYFF News 4 photojournalist Aaron Smeltzer died Monday when a tree fell on their SUV.
The accident happened while they were covering the impact of heavy rain in that area, according to the WYFF-TV website.
Tryon Fire Chief Geoffrey Tennant said the engine of the SUV was running and the transmission was in drive when authorities arrived at the scene about 2:30 p.m.
He said the tree that fell on the SUV was about 3 feet in diameter and had stood back off the road.
Tennant said the ground was saturated and the tree's root system failed.
"I have never seen an event like this one," Tennant, who has been in fire service in Polk County for 44 years, said.
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"It personally affected me a little bit because I had done an interview with Mr. McCormick about 10 minutes before we got the call. 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," Tennant said. "It's the first time I ever met either one of those two gentleman, but you feel a sense of responsibility to them."
Mike joined WYFF News 4 in April 2007 as a reporter in the Spartanburg newsroom. In 2014, he was also named anchor of WYFF News 4 on Sundays at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Mike came to the Upstate from Arkansas, where he was a reporter and fill-in anchor at one of WYFF 4's sister stations, KHBS/KHOG, for nearly three years.
Aaron was the photographer in the Spartanburg bureau. He joined the WYFF News 4 family in February of this year.