3 storm chasers die in car crash while pursuing tornado

Kari Scott
April 4, 2017

Three storm chasers were killed on Tuesday in a vehicle wreck in northwest Texas as an intense tornado-packed storm front rolled through the state.

57-year-old Kelley Williamson, 55-year-old Randall Yarnall, and 25-year-old Corbin Jaeger were pronounced dead at the scene.

DPS Sgt. John Gonzalez said the Chevrolet Suburban driven by Williamson ran a stop sign and slammed into a Jeep driven by Jaeger.

A tornado classified by the National Weather Service as EF-0 to EF-1 struck an apartment complex in southwestern Houston on Wednesday morning.

Martin Lisius, who's been chasing storms since 1987, said he thinks the 1996 movie "Twister" spawned a generation of thrill-seeking storm chasers who have no idea what the real risks are.

"Some of the people say, 'You're insane, ' and the other half says, 'I want to go with you, '" Williamson said in a prior on-camera interview. "We are saddened by this loss and our deepest sympathies go out to the families and loved ones of all involved".

But professional researchers say amateur chasers are making their jobs more risky.

Williamson's hobby got him a spot on the Weather Channel about two years ago, where he asked Yarnall to join him.

The crash prompted statements of support from storm chasers on social media.

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Forecasters said the storms could intensify Thursday as the system moves past the Mississippi River.

In a story March 28 about a fatal wreck that killed three storm chasers, The Associated Press incorrectly identified a driver and passenger involved in the collision.

Severe thunderstorms, some including tornadoes, hit north Texas and Oklahoma on Tuesday.

TIMING: It looks as though we may have two area of rain and storms.

Jaeger chased storms for MadWX Chasing, according to its website. "We understand it's very, very hard to lose someone like that, but we appreciate that they were willing to put themselves in harm's way to help others", says David Compton, Barry County Emergency Management Director. Williamson said, "As long as you go out there and be safe, that's the main thing. They were just people out because they heard there were storms", he said.

"You know, there just weren't quite enough storms around, you know".

Jeff Gammons, who lives in Okeechobee County, has been chasing storms for two decades. "They were very well-respected and very well-liked".

"No more shell-game arguments of 'It's the bad chasers who are to blame.' Even the best admit that they get too close sometimes", he added. Wade said of his friend that he would "still be at my wedding in spirit".

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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