Three Storm Chasers Among Dead Oklahoma Storm Victims
Oklahoma storms killed at least nine people last Friday, including three storm chasers. The victims, who had been featured on a Discovery Channel show, were killed by a tornado in the town of El Reno.
The victims included Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras and Carl Young. The three men were said to have dedicated their lives to tracking down storms. At the time of their deaths, they were inside their white truck, which had been mangled and crushed by the storm.
The three men made their living by tracking and filming storms much like this one in an effort to educate the public about them. Tim Samaras actually founded an experiment that would allow for more effective tornado warnings.
He had previously acknowledged that danger was an important part of his chosen career path. Samaras considered himself a scientist and had received numerous grants from the National Geographic Society for his weather research.
In Samaras’ final Twitter post on Friday, the veteran storm chaser recognized the dangers ahead of his team: “Storms now initiating south of Watonga along triple point. Dangerous day ahead for OK – stay weather savvy! (sic)”
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Tim Samaras, his son Paul, and their colleague Carl Young. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families,” Discovery Channel spokeswoman Laurie Goldberg said.
In an interview with National Geographic last month, he said he had become obsessed with tornadoes as a child, while watching the film The Wizard of Oz. “I vowed to myself, ‘I’m going to see that tornado one day.’ Tornadoes have pretty much become a focus of my life,” he said.
Samaras, who had appeared regularly on the Storm Chasers show on the Discovery Channel, said he wanted to understand why some thunderstorms generated twisters while others didn’t. That might in turn help to modify building design to reduce casualties.
In a Facebook statement from the Samaras family, one family member said that while the men were deceased, they died doing something they loved.
Another storm chaser, Tony Laubach, who had worked alongside Samaras for several years, told Reuters: “Tim Samaras was the best there was and he was the last person you would think this would happen to. It’s going to bring everybody down to earth. A lot of chasing has been getting very, very careless, and Tim is not a careless person. He is as nimble and skilled as he could be.”
The public is still awaiting details about the deaths of the three men in addition to the deaths of other victims in El Reno.
“Storm Chasers” aired for five seasons on Discovery Channel before ending in November 2011.
“Mile Wide Tornado: Oklahoma Disaster” airs Sunday, June 2 at 10 p.m. ET on Discovery.
Storm chasers killed: 3 storm chasers killed in Oklahoma tornado
3 veteran storm chasers killed while pursuing storm as it swept into Oklahoma City area
Experienced storm chasers among dead in Oklahoma tornadoes