News Anchors Who Died Tragically

This feature contains descriptions of suicide and violent assaults.

Bringing us important news and updates from all around the globe, one can only wonder what the world would be without journalists and news anchors. Sadly, one too many have died over the years, leaving us with an onscreen void that sometimes, seems very hard to fill. In January 2021, veteran CNN anchor, Larry King died at the age of 87 after suffering a sepsis complication, per People. "Larry King was a giant of broadcasting and a master of the TV celebrity/statesman-woman interview," CNN anchor, Christiane Amanpour wrote in her Twitter tribute to the late star. Similarly, In August 2022, longtime San Diego news anchor, Michael Tuck passed away at 76 after experiencing post-stroke complications for several years, Deadline reported.  

In June 2022, Yvette Mooney, a beloved local news anchor in Australia, died at the age of 58 after suffering from cancer for 16 years, according to Daily Mail. "She was a really good journalist and was a beautiful girl both inside and out," her former colleague, Susannah Carr Mooney, said, per News 7. "She was beautiful to look at, beautiful voice but a really nice nature and lovely to be around." While the death of these news anchors was undoubtedly painful, over the years, some others have died under some rather tragic circumstances. 

Neena Pacholke died by suicide

Neena Pacholke, a news anchor at Wausau's WAOW, died by suicide on August 27, 2022, at the age of 27. "The entire team here at News 9 are absolutely devastated by the loss as we know so many others are as well," WAOW said in an official statement. "Neena loved this community and the people who lived here. She was a kind person with a big heart and a contagious smile and we will miss her greatly."

Per TMZ, Pacholke's tragic death came shortly after her partner, Kyle Haase ended their engagement a few weeks before their wedding. Speaking to the Daily Mail, sources claimed that the couple's two-year relationship had been troubled with tension and fighting. "They were always arguing, and it seemed like Neena was more in love with Kyle [than] he was with her," a friend claimed. Other sources suggested that the late news anchor suspected Haase was cheating after finding some unknown female underwear in their home. 

Per the outlet, Pacholke's parents gave an interview to WAOW-9 where her mom confirmed that the news anchor had also been experiencing mental health issues. Although she had a supportive community to lean on, her daughter struggled to voice her experiences to others. "She was getting treatment ... she had been to the crisis center a couple of times," her mom shared. "... She didn't want anybody to know how she was hurting so she didn't talk until it got so bad."

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Tim Russert died after a heart attack

In June 2008, Tim Russert, longtime host of NBC's "Meet the Press" died after suffering a heart attack, aged 58. Per The New York Times, Russert, who had just returned from a trip to Italy, collapsed while recording voiceovers at the Washington Bureau of NBC News. A staple in NBC's political coverage, the news anchor's sudden death was met with an outpour of tributes from the journalism community as well as political figures from across the country. 

In a statement published by Los Angeles Times, former President George W. Bush, shared, "He was an institution in both news and politics for more than two decades ... Tim was a tough and hardworking newsman. He was always well-informed and thorough in his interviews."

Russert, a native of Buffalo, New York, joined NBC's Washington office in 1984, as an executive before transitioning to his role as Bureau chief in 1989. Two years later, he was named the host of "Meet The Press," a position he held up until his tragic death. For his incredible work as a journalist, Russert was met with several accolades. In 2005, he won an Emmy for his coverage of former President Ronald Reagan's funeral. Three years later, Time named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world, writing, "Tim Russert is among the most astute, discerning, and relentless pursuers of truth in the nation, and has been for years."

Jim Matthews was murdered in his home

In September 2022, radio news anchor, Jim Matthews was killed in his Detroit home. Per Fox 2 Detroit, the suspect was reported as being Arthur Williamson, a friend of Matthews' girlfriend, Nichole Guertin. Speaking to authorities, she stated that she'd invited Williamson into the family home at 4 a.m. to celebrate his birthday weekend. However, Guertin alleged that her house guest's mood drastically changed when she suggested it was getting late and that her boyfriend would be home soon. 

When Matthews returned home from work, he was violently attacked with a hammer and a knife. Guertin and the couple's two kids also suffered varying injuries from the attack, with her and their son in critical condition from the trauma they sustained. According to the Daily Mail, their condition thankfully improved in the days following the assault. Upon arriving to the scene of the tragic incident, authorities found Williamson in a basement where he had apparently attempted suicide. He was arrested and charged with one count of first-degree homicide, homicide felony murder, two counts of intent to murder, and three counts of unlawful imprisonment.

Prior to his death, Matthews worked as an overnight anchor at WWJ-AM for several years. "He was a consummate professional and was dedicated to WWJ and the broadcasting industry," the station said of the late anchor, per the New York Post. Meanwhile, his brother, Joe Nicolai, paid tribute to Matthews, telling WXYZ Detroit, "He loved taking care of his kids, he loved being on the radio ... he was a really amazing person."

Mike McCormick was killed during a storm

What was supposed to be another day at work on May 28, 2018, soon turned into a fatal event for WYFF News 4 anchor, Mike McCormick, and photojournalist, Aaron Smeltzer. According to Deadline, the pair died after a tree fell on their SUV in the Polk County Area from where they were covering a storm. Commenting on the tragic incident, Tryon Fire Chief, Geoffrey Tennant revealed he had granted an interview to McCormick only a few minutes before he was killed. "We had talked a little bit about how he wanted us to stay safe and I wanted him to stay safe," he added, per USA Today.

Per WYFF News 4, McCormick had previously worked as a writer at WSVN in Miami and as a reporter with KHBS/KHOG. In 2007, he joined WYFF as a reporter, working his way up to the top through the years. In 2014, McCormick became a Sunday news anchor, providing coverage for the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. news slots. A graduate of broadcast journalism and theatre arts, McCormick was a two-time nominee of a Southeast Regional Emmy Award — first in 2008 and then in 2014. Paying tribute to the late anchor, WYFF News 4 released a statement that read, "All of us at WYFF News 4 are grieving. We are a family and we thank you, our extended family, for your comfort as we mourn and as we seek to comfort the families of Mike and Aaron."

Todd Tongen died by suicide

In June 2019, Todd Tongen, a beloved news anchor of Miami's WPLG Local 10, was found dead in his home. As reported by Local 10, his wife was on a trip out of town at the time and asked a friend to check up on her husband after having trouble reaching him. Having discovered Todd's body, the friend informed the police, who later confirmed that the cause of death was suicide. 

His brother, Dr. Scott Tongen, told Local 10 that he believed the news anchor was convinced he had Lewy body dementia – the same illness that took their mother's life — and was experiencing great distress over the idea. "I'm convinced that he thought he had it," Scott said. "Whether there was conclusive evidence or not, I think he thought he had it, and that may have been enough."

After joining Local 10 News in 1989, Tongen held multiple positions, ranging from weatherman to co-anchor on the weekend morning news. According to People, Scott quite notably hosted interviews with Hollywood celebrities like Dwyane Johnson, Eva Mendez, and Joan Rivers, all of whom sat for a ride around town in his 1967 Checker taxi cab, otherwise called the "10 Taxi." The vehicle was so iconic that former Fugees rapper, Wyclef Jean once reportedly tried to buy it from him, according to Local 10.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Jovita Moore died of brain cancer

In October 2021, Atlanta news anchor, Jovita Moore died just seven months after receiving a cancer diagnosis. Per People, she was prompted to visit the hospital after experiencing some unusual symptoms. There, the news anchor learned she had glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. Though there is no cure for this type of cancer at the time of writing, Moore managed the illness with chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Given her sudden passing, Moore's death left many of her colleagues and other members of the Georgia community heartbroken. "Today, we mourn the passing of [Jovita Moore], who used her voice and platform to highlight important issues impacting Atlantans for more than 20 years," renowned politician, Stacey Abrams tweeted. "May God bless her family, loved ones, and [WSB-TV] colleagues in their time of grief."

Prior to joining WSB-TV in 1999, Moore had previously worked in different stations across Memphis, Fort Smith, and Fayetteville, as reported by Deadline. During her time at the station, Moore racked up several achievements and accolades including multiple Emmy Awards and an award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. She was also featured in Georgia Trend Magazine's 40 Under 40 list, in 2007. In a statement published by Deadline, WSB celebrated Moore's immense talents as a news anchor, stating, "Her awards and accolades are endless, but for those of us here at Channel 2, her heart and her spirit are what our newsroom was built around."

Nancy Parker was killed in a plane crash

In 2018, Nancy Parker, a longtime WVUE Fox 8 reporter was tragically killed in a plane crash, aged 53. According to Fox 8, Parker, who had worked with the network for over two decades, was filming a story in a stunt plane when it went down. Franklin J.P. Augustus, the pilot of the plane and the only other person on board, also died in the crash. 

"Today we lost a wonderful journalist and remarkable friend, the New Orleans television community lost a true treasure, but beyond that, her family lost a wife, a mother, and daughter," FOX 8 Vice President and General Manager, Tim Ingram shared in a statement, published by WDSU 6 News. "... She will be sorely missed, and her absence creates a void that cannot be filled."

According to Fox 8, the National Transportation Safety Board failed to find any substantial reasons as to why the pilot lost control of the fallen plane.  According to ABC News, Parker's husband, Glen Boyd, later filed a $23 million lawsuit against the FAA, alleging that the agency was aware of the stunt plane's history of mechanical problems. The lawsuit also alleged that on the day of the crash, the plane had been delayed from flying for several hours due to mechanical issues.

Wendy Rieger had aggressive brain cancer

On April 16, 2022, the NBC4 Washington anchor and reporter, Wendy Rieger, died from Glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. She was 65. "Wendy was diagnosed with brain cancer almost a year ago," NBC4 Washington shared in an official statement. "She had surgery and treatment, then retired in December with an intent to savor the rest of her life and start a new chapter." Sadly, Rieger's cancer returned only a few weeks before her death — this time, more aggressive than before.

Though she joined the network in 1988, it was not until 1996 that Reiger started serving as NBC4's weekend evening news anchor. Per AP, she moved from the weekend shift to start anchoring weekday evening news in 2001. She remained there until her retirement in December 2021. Prior to NBC, Rieger, a 1980 journalism graduate, spent the earliest years of her career working at a slew of networks including CNN, WTOP, WAMU, and WLTT-FM. Additionally, Deadline reports that the popular news anchor began her career as an actor, before transitioning to the news.

Rieger's sudden death was met with an outpouring of tributes from loved ones as well as other key figures in Washington. In an Instagram post, Aaron Gilchrist, an NBC colleague wrote, "Wendy's death inspires me to remember the joy with which she lived, her devilish grin, her persistent awe, her caring ear, and her vibrant, unyielding energy." Meanwhile, Washington DC's Mayor Muriel Bowser remembered Rieger as, "One of DC's most beloved anchors," on Twitter.