J. Christopher “Chip” Tayag, a South Carolina helicopter pilot who grew up in Baltimore County, died Nov. 22 in a helicopter crash along a North Carolina highway. He was 57 years old.
Born in Towson, he was the son of Dr. Diadema Simon, an internal medicine physician, and the late Dr. Balbino Z. Tayag Jr., an abdominal surgeon. His parents met in the United States after immigrating separately in the 1960s from the Philippines, where they had studied at the same medical school.
He graduated from Calvert Hall College High School in 1984 and earned an associate degree from Essex Community College, now known as Community College of Baltimore County Essex.
Originally the youngest of four siblings, he gained two older brothers after his father’s death, when his mother married widower Dr. Edilberto Beltran in 1972.
Mr. Tayag developed an early interest in remote-controlled planes, said his brother Tristan Tayag of Fort Worth, Texas. He learned to build his own planes and flew them with a group of retired men.
Later, he worked in IT where his office overlooked a hospital helipad, sparking a new dream of becoming a helicopter pilot. He earned his pilot’s license and eventually worked as a tour guide for Helicopter Adventures in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for three years, according to a family obituary.
Mr Tayag joined Charlotte, North Carolina-based news station WBTV in 2017. He was flying with WBTV meteorologist Jason Myers when the two died in a crash on November 22. Police praised Mr Tayag as a “hero” for avoiding the highway as the helicopter went down, sparing other vehicles.
As a teenager, Mr. Tayag earned a certification in scuba diving with his stepfather. An avid biker, he had a black belt in karate and loved fishing on his boat, a 14-foot Boston Whaler called “Fish n Chip.” When his family waterskied off Ocean City, he was one of the few who could stand on a ski, his brother said.
“Chip was always a bit adventurous,” his brother said.
After a drunk driver hit Mr Tayag on a Saturday morning motorbike ride in 1994 and his leg was nearly amputated, that adventurous spirit was tempered with a healthy dose of caution.
“He was the safest driver I know because of this accident,” his brother said. “He was very professional in the helicopter and was very focused on safety.”
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Martin Engle, a classmate from the Class of 1984, said Calvert Hall alumni shared their shock at Mr Tayag’s death at an annual homecoming event the day before Thanksgiving.
“He was quiet and didn’t like the attention he got much, but he was determined to pursue the things he loved,” said Mr Engle, who also attended college with Mr Tayag. . “He was a good-hearted guy and he would do anything for you.”
Mr. Tayag was active in his parish, Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, in Indian Land, South Carolina, where he married his wife, Kerry, in 2019. Relatives described him as generous and easy-going. live, someone who embodied his Catholic faith.
A father-in-law of two and beloved uncle to his 14 nieces and nephews, Mr. Tayag was also chosen as godfather to some of his siblings’ children.
“You want to pick someone who’s really strong in their faith,” her brother said. “I’m older than him, but I learned a lot from him.”
He is survived by his wife, Kerry Tayag; one daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Walker; a stepson Jonathan Walker (Emily Walker); his mother, Dr. Diadema “Di” Simon-Beltran; his stepfather, Dr. Edilberto Beltran; five siblings: Rowena Crist (Michael Crist), Carene Giannico (Mike Giannico), Tristan Tayag (Jennifer Tayag), Tito Beltran (Vicki Beltran), and Rick Beltran (Cara Beltran); 14 nieces and nephews; and 11 great-nieces and great-nephews.
A funeral mass will be held Saturday at noon at the Immaculate Conception Church at 200 Ware Ave. in Towson.
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