A longtime meteorologist with The Weather Channel died Sunday after crashing a Volkswagen into a parking garage at Midtown’s Colony Square Mall, the the Atlanta-based network said Monday.
The victim, identified by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office as 39-year-old Nicholas Wiltgen of Atlanta, was a senior digital meteorologist, said Cameron Clayton, president of product and technology at The Weather Channel.
Clayton emailed a statement to employees, company spokeswoman Maureen Marshall told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“We have lost a treasured member of The Weather Channel family,” Clayton said in the statement. “Nick Wiltgen was at Weather for more than 15 years as a senior digital meteorologist and integral member of our content team.
“Millions read his work every week and were better for it. He was a dedicated, passionate member of our family and we will miss him deeply. Our heartfelt sympathy is with his family and friends.”
Wiltgen was pronounced dead at the scene after he crashed into an adjacent hotel and injured another person.
A witness saw the Volkswagen Eos 3.2 traveling “at a very high rate of speed” before running into the wall at the parking garage, located near the intersection of Peachtree and 14th streets, according to information released by Atlanta police and fire officials.
The car went through the wall and about 20 feet into the adjacent W Atlanta-Midtown, where it hit a person in a storage area around 5:30 p.m, Atlanta police spokeswoman Kim Jones said. Authorities initially described the injured person as a hotel worker, but a W Atlanta spokeswoman clarified Monday that he was a member of an “independent production company.” He was treated for non-life threatening injuries, Jones said.
Witnesses “pulled the [driver] out of the car and attempted CPR,” fire department spokesman Cortez Stafford said, but their efforts were unsuccessful.
Early Monday, police told Channel 2 Action News Wiltgen had a heart attack. However, Fulton Medical Examiner’s Office investigator Mark Guilbeau told The AJC his office has not confirmed that yet.
Stafford, in a statement, said: “It has yet to be determined exactly what happened or why the male ran into the wall.”
While the circumstances surrounding Wiltgen’s death were not completely clear, his impact among coworkers and friends was.
Media colleagues of Wiltgen’s sent their condolences via Twitter Monday afternoon.
Al Roker, co-anchor of NBC’s TODAY Show, said on Twitter his thoughts and prayers were with Wiltgen’s family.
“His smile, expertise and camaraderie will be missed,” Roker said.
Mark Elliot, a meteorologist with The Weather Channel, said he was saddened by the loss of his friend and colleague.
He described Wiltgen as an amazing friend, soccer aficionado and a committed scientist who would log how much gas went into his car to avoid topping off the tank.
Elliot said his friend also had eclectic taste in music and often got everyone grooving to upbeat electronica.
“His infectious laugh would fill the halls,” Elliot said.
He had this to say of Wiltgen’s work in a Twitter post:
“Our WX facts will never be as full. You will be truly missed.”
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