Jacksonville tragedies shadow crash that killed news anchor, photojournalist

Aaron Smeltzer, Mike McCormick killed when tree hit SUV

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A day after a television news anchor and photojournalist were killed when a tree fell on their SUV, News4Jax spoke to one of their co-workers, and a Georgia woman who lost her daughter in a similar tragedy.

Aaron Smeltzer and Mike McCormick worked at WYFF in Greenville, South Carolina. They were killed Sunday while covering storms in North Carolina. Their news SUV was still in drive, showing the vehicle was in motion when the tree fell.

Carla Miller of Glynn County lost her 22-year-old daughter and mother of three Kaleigh in a similar crash in 2014.

"I try to keep her alive for them at least in memory so they (the children) never forget where they came from," Miller said. "She was a good mom, and they're good kids, and it was all taken away from them."

In another similar incident, two landscape workers with Nanak Landscaping were killed in 2004. Ronald Perry, 44, and Francisco Maldonado, 30, were killed when a tree fell on their pickup truck. A third person was hospitalized in critical condition.

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WYFF Meteorologist Chris Justus, who knew the anchor and photojournalist killed Sunday, worked closely with McCormick on weekends. He understands the pain Miller is feeling.

"As journalists, we report these awful things all the time," Justus said. "But when it strikes home, it really cuts deep."