3 storm chasers killed in 2-vehicle accident near Spur, Texas

Discussion in 'Weather In The News' started by Dan Robinson, Mar 28, 2017.

  1. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    UPDATE, 7:54PM CDT: The following details have been released:

    Three storm chasers lost their lives in a motor vehicle accident near Spur, Texas on Tuesday, March 28, 2017. The identities of the 3 have been officially released by the Texas Dept. of Public Safety:

    First vehicle:
    Kelley Williamson, 57
    Randall Yarnall, 55

    Second vehicle:
    Corbin Jaeger, 25

    The accident was a broadside collision at the intersection of County Road 419 and Farm-to-Market road 2754 one mile west of Spur, Texas. The Williamson vehicle, which was traveling north on 419, apparently ran the stop sign at the intersection.

    News links:
    http://abcnews.go.com/US/storm-chasers-die-texas-car-crash-authorities/story?id=46432879
    http://abc7amarillo.com/news/local/reports-two-storm-chasers-dead-in-wreck-outside-spur-texas

    ORIGINAL REPORT, 3:50PM CDT: Jeff Piotrowski is reporting that storm chasers are among victims of a fatal car accident in Spur, Texas. No identities yet.

    https://twitter.com/Jeff_Piotrowski/status/846826066480107521
     
    #1 Dan Robinson, Mar 28, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2017
  2. Matthew Gaylor

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    Spotter network has a couple chasers where Jeff's last location is (west of Spur), but that's not really reliable due to how intermittent SN is
     
  3. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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  4. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    Jeff P now saying all three fatalities are chasers. There are rumors as to the identities, but nothing will be confirmed until the families are notified. (If you know, please refrain from posting the names until official sources make it public.)
     
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  5. Mike DeLange

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    A sad day in the community, I have witnessed the worst side of social media today with some engaging in the need to be "first" in reporting the identities of victims and details of the crash. It is my hope the families of those lost are somehow comforted in these tragic times.
     
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  6. John Sacrey

    John Sacrey Lurker

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    Prayers for all involved. I came across a post on a weather forum I frequent that had names in it. I reported the post to the moderators of that forum to remove it until their next of kin have been notified and their names are released publicly.
     
  7. Morgan Palmer

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    The Texas Dept. of Public Safety released this shortly ago out of their Lubbock office. (Just also saw the announcement on TWC). So heartbreaking. - mp (ADD: Source... https://twitter.com/HenryRamosTV/status/846888812177489921)

    The drivers and occupant in the two car crash west of Spur, Tx have been identified.

    The driver of the Suburban was identified as Kelley Gene Williamson, 57, of Cassville, Mo. Mr. Williamson was ejected from the vehicle at the time of the crash. Mr. Williamson was not wearing his seatbelt. The passenger in the Suburban was identified as Randall Delane Yarnall, 55, also of Cassville, Mo. Mr. Yarnall was wearing a seatbelt.

    The driver of the Jeep was identified as Corbin Lee Jaeger, 25, of Peoria, Arizona. Mr. Jaeger was wearing a seatbelt.

    The crash is still under investigation.

    Sergeant John Gonzalez
    Texas Depart. Of Public Safety
     
    #8 Morgan Palmer, Mar 28, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2017
  8. cstrunk

    cstrunk EF3

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    Terribly sad news. I have enjoyed watching Kelley and Randall's live streams on many occasions.

    RIP.
     
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  9. Andrew Kramer

    Andrew Kramer Lurker

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  10. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    Calculating based on road landmarks in Kelley's live stream, he was traveling at approximately 75 mph. The speed limit was the rural-Texas-highway-standard 70 mph. Kelley's live stream also showed no other vehicles on either road. It did not appear to be an act of deliberate recklessness, rather a simple but tragic mistake that any of us could have made - chasers or not.
     
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    #11 Dan Robinson, Mar 28, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2017
  11. Harrison Cater

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    It's a tragic loss for the whole community. It has been determined that Kelley wasn't wearing a seat belt, and as others have pointed out, blew a stop sign. This should serve as a reminder to ALL chasers of any skill level, experience, background etc, that distracted driving can not only cause the death of yourself, but also the deaths of other people. The most dangerous part of storm chasing is the road, and many chasers(myself included) don't necessarily follow all the rules of the road as much as we should.
     
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  12. Bob Hartig

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    Very sad to hear this.
     
  13. Clarence Bennett

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    It is all very sad and will leave everyone in a bit of a state of shock. I only met Kelley one time, May 16 of last year near Wheeless, Ok and did not know the other two, but feel unmotivated to even consider chasing in the MS Delta on Thursday. The sad thing is based on Google street view, they had many chances to see the upcoming intersection and must have been incredibly distracted as they never slowed down as they approached. The first chance is the JCT 2794 sign, the second chance being a yellow diamond with stop sign and black arrow indicating to stop ahead, third chance after that a green sign indicating Spur to the east and White River lake to the west, fourth chance is the stop sign at the intersection. So tragic. No interest in going out Thursday.
     
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  14. joel ewing

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    I just got home 10 minutes ago from running errands all day and got myself online. I was looking at MIdland radar when my wife walked in and asked me "did you hear about the chasers killed in Texas today??". My heart and stomach just sank....here we go again. Chasing for 30 some years now, I just KNEW it would be someone I knew well or at least knew OF. I immediately logged into StormTrack....and right off the bat saw the first name.....Kelley Williamson. This blew my mind. Kelley and I never had crossed paths yet. He was a relative newcomer to this although I'd ridden shotgun with him like many of you have via his live streams several times. I had tuned into him during one of his chases very recently, and actually had the thought at that time that I'd make it a point to meet him when I begin my month of chasing this late May...as always. Since he was 57 and I'm 62, I figured that he probably spoke the same language that I did....compared to a chaser fresh out of UNO....although I truly enjoy making friends with chasers from any generation. The other gentleman in his vehicle surely must have been his primary driver. Godspeed to all 3 of these souls, now on their way to their next destinations. These three men will most certainly be in my prayers later this evening, as well as their wives and family members who are all surely in a state of devastated shock at this moment. My God.....can you imagine? One moment your loved one is here and the next they're gone forever. As the "Good Book" says....."Get your house in order", folks. This is exactly why.
     
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  15. Tim Paitz

    Tim Paitz EF2

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    The worst part of this was that this accident was quite avoidable. :(

    Kelley seemed like he chased everything. It didn't matter when, where, or what, he chased it.

    Keeping the families of Kelley, Randy and Corey in my thoughts and prayers.
     
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  16. Warren Faidley

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    Tragic news. Hopefully chasers will also reach out to those who stopped to help. It's something you don't soon forget. And let's not forget the third chaser who lost his life, although a lot of us do not know his name. Here is a bio from his website at madwx.com.

    "Corbin has had the "weather bug" since an early age. Growing up in Colorado, he saw many incredible High Plains storms that furthered his passion for weather. While traveling cross country through North Dakota to visit family, Corbin saw his first real tornado on June 6, 1999, just a few days before his 8th birthday. After witnessing that large cone drop in the field in front of him, he became even more addicted to severe weather. Corbin moved to Northern California for a few years, where somewhat exciting weather happens maybe four times a year. For a while, he forgot what a storm even was. In 2011, he moved to Arizona and was greeted by the historic July 5 Phoenix dust storm. This event opened his eyes to the amazing weather of Arizona, and he has been chasing the monsoon ever since. In 2014, Corbin decided that it was time to expand his chasing territory, and he began chasing out in Tornado Alley in addition to the Desert Southwest. Corbin and Trey first met each other at the 2014 Arizona ChaserCon (MonsoonCon's first iteration) before teaming up to chase both the monsoon and the incredible weather of the Great Plains."
     
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  17. Jeff Duda

    Jeff Duda Resident meteorological expert
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    If this really was caused because one of Yarnell or Williamson was distracted, ran a stop sign, and hit Jaeger at highway speed, as seems to have been the case, then I personally am angered and frustrated. Nevermind the two older people - a young person who still had much of his life ahead of him seems to have been needlessly killed; a life cut short, completely unnecessarily.

    I had not met any of those three, and was only familiar with Williamson's name, but my heart mainly goes out to the family of Corbin Jaeger. It seems very much like he did absolutely nothing to deserve this. His death is much more tragic than that of Yarnell or Williamson, IMO.
     
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  18. Marc R. O'Leary

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    Jeff, if you look at the photos from the local news article, it shows what is likely Corbin's Jeep having sustained head on damage. That along with Williamson's live stream vid screaming into an intersection towards a stop sign, it's pretty clear what happened.

    Weather be damned, road rules exist for a reason. These are the consequences.
     
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  19. joel ewing

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    You are absolutely correct, Dan....this COULD have been ANY of us. I'll come clean and make the personal confession that on 2 separate storm chases in the Texas panhandle in the early 1990's, I too blew through clearly marked stop signs at full speed plus. Both instances were during the bright afternoon sun, the roads were beautiful and there was no severe weather in the immediate area at the time. I had not ingested any alcohol or illegal drugs. Had there been traffic crossing the intersection on either occasion....the results would have been identical to what happened earlier today. I CAN tell you that both times I was DEAD TIRED from my constant running and gunning throughout tornado alley, chasing storms for several weeks prior. We all know and love "the rush" that we get from chasing, but I assure you, the older you get, the more you begin to notice how much energy this endeavor takes from you. Unless you're getting good, quality sleep and eating properly to replenish these depleted necessities...it becomes harder and harder to "keep it together" and be 100% sharp while on the road. I have a hunch that maybe.....maybe....this COULD have played a part in this tragedy. We shall see. And to semi-quote Dan Robinson once again...."this is a simple but tragic mistake that ANY OF US could have made".
     
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  20. joel ewing

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    Good Lord, Jeff......it's a freakin' accident and 3 families are wailing in pain as we speak. To profess an assessment of which victim is more deserving of your anger than another is absolutely without dignity. I say this to you with respect, my brother.
     
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  21. Justin Hassie

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    I looked at RadarScope earlier and saw how many people were on one storm and told my wife I couldn't imagine trying to chase with so many other people in the same spot. I've seen the videos of chasers trying to get through hoards of people to keep up with a storm. I enjoyed watching Kelley's chases as he quite often had a great view. All 3 died doing something they loved but it could have just as easily been a mom with kids that got hit. We all need to be more careful, whether we're chasing or not. My prayers go out to their families and friends as well as those that had to witness and investigate this tragedy. Don't be the next statistic; keep your eyes on the road when you're behind the wheel, and pull completely off the road to stop and take pictures/video. No storm is worth getting killed over or killing someone else.

    Sent from my Nexus 5 using Stormtrack mobile app
     
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  22. David Hoadley

    David Hoadley Stormtrack founder

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    A tragedy like this reminds some of us of our own close calls on the highway, and why we always need to think for the other driver as well as ourselves. Several years ago, I was chasing an early evening Illinois storm, moving toward Springfield. I was driving up Hwy 29, having just passed Taylorville. With fading daylight, I could still see storm base over the trees to the northwest. It had a lowering -but nothing exciting- so was in no hurry. I briefly noticed a distant car on the right and approaching the highway ahead, kicking up dust on an unpaved farm road. My lights were on so assumed the driver saw me and would stop --and I had the right-of-way. Intermittent trees and shrubs occasionally hid him from view, so my attention was again drawn to an occasional glance at the storm. Suddenly, approaching headlights. No time to slow. A split second! --He barreled through the intersection at warp speed, less than a car length in front!-- Too fast to be scared or hold a thought. In that brief instant, I saw he was a young kid --probably not a chaser but a local, having driven that road many times before and never had to stop. Tragedies like Spur remind us always to think for the other driver. Never assume. Perhaps this is what happened there. If only a handful of us now back off a little, maybe that loss will not have been in vain. - - - My near experience with eternity one evening in Illinois certainly taught me.
     
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    #23 David Hoadley, Mar 29, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2017
  23. CGardner

    CGardner EF0

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    Prayers for their families. I always looked up to Randy and Kelley being a SWMO guy myself.
     
  24. Todd Lemery

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    I've waited until now to post my thoughts. My prayers go out to the families who today have to wake up knowing they'll never see their loved ones again. Very, very sad. This accident, while completely unintentional, should make us focus more while we are driving. Not just while chasing, in our day to day lives too. I know that over time tragedies such as this slowly tend to fade. Therefore, please don't be offended by my little yellow blinky light that is on to help you see that I'm sharing the road with you.
     

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