Three storm chasers, including two with Weather Channel ties, died Tuesday in north-central Texas after their cars crashed into each other during the pursuit of a tornado that spun up during a bout of severe weather in the Southwest.
According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, one of the chasers driving a Chevrolet Suburban ran a stop sign and slammed into another chaser’s Jeep.
Kelley Gene Williamson, 57, was driving the Suburban with Randall Delane Yarnall, 55, in the passenger seat. Corbin Lee Jaeger, 25, was driving alone in the Jeep.
Williamson and Yarnall contracted with The Weather Channel, according to a statement released late Tuesday.
“Kelley and Randy were beloved members of the weather community,” the statement said. “We are saddened by this loss and our deepest sympathies go out to the families and loved ones of all involved.”
The duo had a show on The Weather Channel called Storm Wranglers.
Williamson live streamed this video during Tuesday’s storm pursuit.
Jaeger, of Peoria, Ariz., chased storms for MadWX Chasing, according to its website. Mostly interested in Arizona’s monsoon season, Jaeger would also chase storms in the Great Plains.
The group’s Facebook page has a post from Jaeger in Paducah, Texas, Tuesday with a picture of the Jeep.
“Currently in Paduca, Texas doing a reassessment of today’s chase plans. I’ll keep you all updated. Big hail in the plains for today, hopefully a tornado as well. – Corbin #MadWx #txwx”
CNN reports that Williamson and Yarnall knew each other since elementary school.
Billy Wade, who told CNN he knew all the three men, said the storm-chasing community is close-knit .
“I just spoke to him a week and a half ago,” he said. “We had plans for him to visit so I could teach him some photography skills.”
On the Storm Wranglers website, it says Kelley, a farmer by trade, started tracking storms after his wife’s van was picked up in a twister and flipped.
“The incident ignited Kelley’s passion, and he is the eyes and ears on the ground for The Weather Channel when our viewers need it most,” the site says.