Three meteorology students from the University of Oklahoma were killed in a car crash after chasing tornadoes this weekend. The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety said earlier today that the crash happened Friday in Tonkawa, Oklahoma, shortly before 11:30 pm near the Oklahoma-Kansas border.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said in a report that Nicholas Nair, 20, of Denton, Texas, and his two passengers, Gavin Short, 19 of Grayslake, Illinois, and Drake Brooks, 22, of Evansville, Indiana were traveling south on I-35 when their 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan hydroplaned and became disabled. There, a semi crashed into them, pinning the storm chasers in their vehicle while rescue crews spent more than 5 hours trying to get them out of their crushed vehicle. They were then pronounced dead at the scene.
Before the crash, Nair and Short were busy on Twitter sharing their storm chasing photography and tornado alerts online.
Tornado on the ground passing Highway 77 around 8:10 PM.Four miles north of Herington, Kansas. @NWSWichita @NWSTopeka @MetCrewChasers #kswx pic.twitter.com/CToXmgr1ij
— Nic Nair (@nic_nairwx) April 30, 2022
Large dusty tornado 4 miles north of Herrington, Kansas. Filmed at 8:07 pm. We observed power flashes in the town. #kswx #kansasing @NWSWichita @NWSTopeka @MetCrewChasers @nic_nairwx @Wx_DrakeBrooks pic.twitter.com/GGtTrPZLpj
— Gavin Short (@GavinShortWX) April 30, 2022
AccuWeather Storm Chaser Reed Timmer, who was also out chasing the storms, went on Twitter today to offer his condolences. In a Tweet earlier today, Timmer wrote, “Heartbreaking loss of 3 OU students in an accident on the way back from chasing. These students are close to my heart and a shining light in the weather community. Words cannot describe the sadness. My thoughts and prayers go out to their families and friends. RIP my friends.”
The College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences at the University of Oklahoma released a statement today about the crash. In it, they wrote, “We are deeply saddened and our sincerest condolences go out to all affected families and friends. This news comes at a time in the semester when we are diligently preparing for the close of our studies and celebrating our graduates. Our leadership and faculty stand ready to support each of our community members in the days, weeks, and months ahead as we all grieve this unthinkable heartbreak.” The statement concluded, “Our community in Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences is close-knit, and our School of Meteorology is very much a family. Now, more than ever, we must come together in kindness and heartfelt support for one another. Please join us in offering thoughts and prayers for those most impacted, and providing them with privacy.”