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Ad-Sales Couple Killed in Conn. Crash

A car accident recently took the lives of an industry couple who met years ago at CBS and went on to separate jobs at Viacom Plus and National Cable Communications.

Viacom Plus senior vice president John Irwin and NCC senior VP of sales Gina Smith were killed Feb. 8 in a multicar accident on Interstate 95 in Connecticut. They were on their way home from Smith’s house in Providence, R.I., to Irwin’s residence in Astoria, N.Y., when the accident occurred.

According to the Hartford Courant, a car driven by an 18-year-old Connecticut woman struck the guardrail on I-95, causing the vehicle she was driving -- her father’s Ford Explorer -- to roll over in the left lane of the highway.

A Chevrolet Blazer driven by Irwin then struck another car that had pulled onto the right shoulder of the highway to avoid the Explorer, and the Blazer rolled over into the highway.

Irwin, 40, and Smith, 47, were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

The couple met several years ago, when both worked for CBS.

Smith began her career with CBS as an account executive in Boston and New York before being promoted to national sales manager at WPRI-TV Providence. Before joining NCC in November, she spent seven years at NBC, most recently as senior VP of ad sales for the Telemundo Station Group.

"Gina was a rare spirit, and she became a leader, guiding force and friend to many of us at NCC, our clients and our affiliates in the short time she was here. She will be remembered forever and missed terribly," NCC president Greg Shaefer said.

Irwin joined Viacom Plus, Viacom Inc.’s cross-sales and marketing arm, as VP in 2000, and he was promoted to senior VP in 2002. Earlier, he spent two years in CBS’ sales-development unit and five years with CBS Spot Sales.

Before joining CBS, he held various local-sales positions with regional cable companies.

"John was an extraordinary human being who was known for his warmth, intelligence and sense of humor," Viacom Plus executive VP Lisa McCarthy said.

"John had a long relationship with Viacom and CBS, where he demonstrated great leadership and creative problem-solving every day," she added. "John was more than a co-worker to many of us. He was a true friend, and to say he will be greatly missed would be an understatement."