Fans and colleagues expressed grief and shock at news of the sudden loss of photojournalist Paul Lamison, best known to viewers of WFLA Ch. 8 as the eye in the sky in the Eagle 8 news helicopter. He was 57.
Lamison monitored everything from the morning commute to the Gasparilla parade, “but to us, he was so much more,” the NBC affiliate said in an on-air tribute.
He died Wednesday after suffering a heart attack, the station reported, leaving behind a wife, Nerissa, daughters and several siblings.
“Ever since we’ve both been here — and it’s been three decades — he’s here with us, and he’s always here,” Operations Manager George Karalekas said. “I guess this might be cliche but people say you see what you get, and that’s Paul. You see what you get. Fun-loving and he’s got his dad jokes and what he shows on the air is what he’s like in person.”
Lamison began at the station in May 1993 working behind the camera. In recent years he became known to viewers for his part on the morning team working on the Eagle 8 news helicopter.
“I got to spend a lot of time with him because he worked the morning shift with me, and we’d go out and shoot stories in the field all the time,” former anchor Gayle Guyardo said. “He was like family — and no matter what the day looked like, Paul was there to lift it up.”
Lamison grew up in Lakeland, one of six siblings. A longtime Tampa Bay Rays fan, he checked off a “bucket list” item in June when he threw the ceremonial first pitch to Brett Phillips at a Rays baseball game. He told colleagues he had practiced for weeks before taking to the mound.
“That was the coolest thing ever, Brett Phillips caught my pitch,” Lamison told viewers at the time.