On Tuesday night, a local news helicopter crashed, claiming the lives of the pilot, Monroe Smith, 67, and news photographer Christopher Dougherty, 45. The two were on assignment for Philadelphia’s ABC affiliate WPVI-TV when the helicopter went down in a wooded area in New Jersey just after 8 pm. The tragic incident has left the station and the journalism community in shock and mourning.
Returning from an assignment at the Jersey Shore, the helicopter, operated by pilot Monroe Smith, began descending in altitude before ultimately crashing. The National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the cause of the crash, while the Federal Aviation Administration has taken control of the scene since Wednesday morning at 3 am.
Photos from the crash site depict a heartbreaking scene, with scattered debris from the helicopter, some pieces engulfed in flames and smoke. The remote location of the crash initially posed challenges for responders due to limited visibility until daylight.
Both Monroe Smith and Christopher Dougherty had a longstanding history with WPVI, making the tragedy all the more devastating for the station. Described as highly skilled and dedicated individuals, the two were on the job for decades, contributing significantly to the field of news reporting. Their passion for their craft and commitment to excellence earned them respect and admiration from their colleagues.
“We just can’t believe this has happened,” WPVI expressed in a statement, reflecting the sentiments of a station left in grief. The loss of Monroe Smith and Christopher Dougherty has deeply impacted the close-knit community at WPVI, where the two were regarded not only as colleagues but as cherished friends.
“Our hearts are just broken for these men. They’re broken for their families,” the station lamented. The sentiment echoed through the newsroom and beyond, as colleagues, friends, and the wider community grapple with the sudden and tragic loss of two pillars in the world of journalism.
Pete Kane, a retired news photographer and a longtime friend of pilot Monroe Smith, shared his shock upon hearing the news. Attempting to reach out to Smith, he recalled, “He didn’t answer the phone. Then my concerns hit. I know he’d answer if Chopper 6 went down. He’d answer the phone. We all have a job to do. He took on the job being a news chopper pilot. He just accepted that job like any other job.”
The poignant words of Kane reflect the dedication and sense of responsibility that individuals like Monroe Smith carry in their roles. The loss of such seasoned professionals not only leaves a void in the newsroom but also in the hearts of those who knew them personally.
As the investigation unfolds, the journalism community mourns the loss of Monroe Smith and Christopher Dougherty. Their legacy, marked by years of exceptional service and unwavering commitment, will undoubtedly be remembered by colleagues, friends, and viewers alike. The tragic incident serves as a poignant reminder of the risks associated with the pursuit of truth and the dedication of those who bring news to the public.