'Overwhelming grief': Tributes flow after news anchor’s shock death

·3-min read

Tributes have flown in for a TV news anchor and father of three after his sudden death. 

Former college football star Christopher Sign was a regular feature in the living rooms of those in the US state of Alabama where he anchored the weekday evening news broadcasts.

The 45-year-old passed away over the weekend.

Police were called to his home early Saturday morning (local time) where they found the man dead. His untimely passing is being investigated as a suicide, police told Today. 

No further details were released by authorities. 

The father of three was found dead early Saturday morning. Source: Instagram/Chris Sign
The father of three was found dead early Saturday morning. Source: Instagram/Chris Sign

His Instagram account depicts a loving husband and father with an endless stream of happy snaps, most showing him coaching his sons at baseball.

Colleagues at the ABC affiliate where Mr Sign worked, as well as those from around the industry, expressed their profound sadness at the loss. 

"We are still in shock over this news. Chris was a very good friend, and an incredible journalist. The grief today has been overwhelming," tweeted veteran local TV meteorologist James Spann.

"A light in our lives extinguished too soon. My friend and brother you will be greatly missed," co-anchor Brenda Ladlun said, sharing a photo on Sunday of the pair behind the news desk.

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Alabama congressman Robert Aderholt was among those to offer their support to the grieving family after their shock loss.

"I’m sending my condolences to everyone at ⁦ABC 33/40. But especially to Chris’ family. He leaves behind his wife and three young sons. I hope you will join me in lifting them up in prayer."

Station issues heartfelt statement

Mr Sign first began working at the station as a junior reporter in the late 90s before spending 13 years as a journalist and anchor in Phoenix, Arizona. 

He eventually returned to the Alabama-based role due to his family, the station said in a heartfelt statement on his passing. 

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"The morning of Saturday, June 12, we learned our dear friend and colleague Christopher Sign passed away overnight.

"To know Chris, was to love Chris," it said.

"What most people don’t know is Chris turned down an opportunity to work for one of the national networks to come to ABC 33/40, and he made that decision because of his family.

"That decision put him in a place where he could see his boys off to school in the mornings, watch them play baseball in the evenings, and take them fishing on the weekends."

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Arguably his most enduring achievement as a journalist was breaking the so-called Bill Clinton "tarmac story" about a secret 2016 meeting between the former president and then-Attorney General Lorreta Lynch. 

Trump supporters claimed the meeting proved the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton’s campaign were colluding to get her elected to the presidency. Mr Sign wrote a book about it called Secret on the Tarmac.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

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