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. Warren Faidley

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    In my almost 30 years of tornado chasing I still don't get it.

    No storm is worth risking the lives of others. If you want to risk your own life -- great -- go for it. I sure the hell have!

    I've ended long-term friendships over this very issue, several times. If you have to get your thrills by risking your own life ---no problem. Go race cars, take up mountain climbing or base jumping -- just don't endanger the lives of others (chasers and the public) who are following the rules and prefer to live. Many chasers besides me have predicted this tragic outcome for years. How would the discussion be going if the chasers hit a bus load of children -- a totally realistic possibility.

    For the majority of us, it's about the adventure, science, travel, photography and friendship. Unfortunately, a handful of people still think public roads are their personal playgrounds. Sorry, driving is still a privilege. I've said this a thousand times and I'll say it again: You don't need to be 100 yards away from a suspected tornado to confirm its a hazard. The irresponsible TV shows have distorted reality, e.g., chasers claiming to be conducting research when nothing of noted scientific value was ever produced. I use to catch atomic, fireball hell for saying that, but what do you know..... I was right. TWC will now have to face the music and it's about time they got called out.

    This is in no way to lay blame on anyone involved in this specific tragedy. It would be unfair until all the facts are known. What some of us are forgetting here is that an innocent person (chaser) was killed and some people seem to be overlooking the reality or trying to avoid reality.

    W.
     
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  2. Steve Holmes

    Steve Holmes Member

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    Me, too. I've been glued to the discussion on three different online boards. Following the conversations helps me process what happened. Not that I knew any of the guys, but I go out on the farm roads, too. What Corbin suffered... hell, that could have been me. It could have been any of us.

    Chasers would then be worried about a backlash, from law enforcement and from the media, with a strong suggestion that all vehicle decals and bar lights be removed when within a 100-mile radius of Spur.

    It would be a fierce, emotional debate like this one. I saw this after 9/11 in the train-chasing community. We were viewed with suspicion. Why would anyone want to be around heavy, fast-moving machines that carry hazardous materials and are vital to our economy? Keep an eye on 'em. Some in the hobby advocated laying low for awhile. Spend your chasing time digitizing your slide collection instead. Others said they weren't the problem. They had as much right to be out there as they always did, they replied, and could help look for the bad guys.

    Another way to frame the debate: Suppose Corbin had been killed by a speeding drunk driver? Would there be as much defense of the driver if he were a regular Joe than if he were, well, one of us?
     
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  3. Tony Laubach

    Tony Laubach Member

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    My rambling thoughts, for whatever it's worth to you all... starts at 8:02, sorry 'bout the audio...

     
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  4. Steve Holmes

    Steve Holmes Member

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  5. Ben Faber

    Ben Faber Noob

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    A tragedy that I'm still sorting out mentally, but one of the most chilling/sobering things I think I've ever seen is watching the video right up to the point of the intersection. As they approached knowing that in 5 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute, etc all 3 lives would be over. Hearing them talk about the weather, observations, and just living life, then snuffed out forever in a split second. Carpe diem everyone, carpe diem.
     
  6. Warren Faidley

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    When I was 19 years old and returning from a local NASCAR dirt track, I passed right through a busy intersection with my race car in tow -- totally blowing a 2-way stop sign I had stopped at hundreds of times before. It was the middle of the day and I was not tired, speeding, distracted or otherwise impaired. The stop sign was facing slightly off center, but that was no excuse. I went right through as two cars narrowly missed me at full speed. To this day I do not know why the hell I missed the sign.

    I have encountered stop signs while chasing that were either damaged or downed by a storm. Regardless, I've never trusted chaseland intersections unless I have 100% 4-way visibility and confirmation that the other vehicle is stopping. I'll slow down until I see the other car stop. I still witness someone blowing a stop sign every few years.

    We may never know what actually happened here. It's odd that both the driver and passenger apparently missed both the "Intersection Ahead" and "Stop Sign." I honestly believe it was just a tragic mistake -- not the continued lunacy attributed to some chasers. I suggest anytime you witness truly "idiotic" and negligent road behavior, in person or online, you should report it to law enforcement. I know that several law enforcement agencies have followed-up on reports of chasers committing serious traffic infractions from Internet broadcasts.

    PS: Always chase with headlamps or driving lights on.
     
    #131 Warren Faidley, Mar 30, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2017
  7. joel ewing

    joel ewing Member

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    That cat needs his summer haircut!
     
  8. Greg McLaughlin

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    What I find most troubling is Kelley's blatant disregard for traffic laws, specifically running stop signs. I don't understand why he engaged in such reckless behavior, especially considering he was running a live stream while representing TWC. I run a stream for a local TV station, and when that camera goes on I am extra cautious about my driving and actions in general. I am representing not just myself, but the station I am working for. The same was true for Kelley. I have heard from a few chasers now who have stated this type of reckless driving by Kelley wasn't new. One chaser even claims to have had a conversation with Kelley warning him of the potential consequences of his reckless driving.

    Corbin was the real victim here. He should still be alive today. My heart aches for his friends and family, especially his mother.

    Hopefully this tragedy is a lesson learned for the rest of us. Our actions have consequences. Obey the laws. Respect others on the road.
     
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  9. JamesCaruso

    JamesCaruso Member

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    Agreed, I always thought that if Driver 1 hits Driver 2 from behind, Driver 1 is automatically assigned all or at least a majority of the responsibility for the accident.



    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  10. Wes Carter

    Wes Carter Member

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    I can understand in some cases publicly shaming someone to try to change their behavior. What are we accomplishing if that person is deceased? We should show some compassion and respect for friends and family who are mourning their loved ones by saving the trial by fire until a later day. The families aren't guilty of anything in this tragedy, but our words online can either comfort them or make their misery worse. The one thing we as chasers can all take from this is to be more careful at intersections and stop for all stop signs.


    Sent from my iPhone using Stormtrack
     
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  11. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    I tried to put some of my thoughts into a blog post.

    http://stormhighway.com/blog2017/march3117b.php

    Honestly, what happened to Kelley is my biggest fear in chasing: causing an accident that gets someone hurt or killed. In fact, it is one of the reasons I drive a small car and likely will for the rest of my life. Lord forbid if the unthinkable happens, I'll have the smaller mass and more likely to take the brunt of the impact forces than the other vehicle.
     
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  12. Warren Faidley

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    I wrote several years ago that we might expect an average of one chaser death per year, following the tragic events in El Reno -- and the growing insanity around storms. The El Reno event was not the same as what just occurred, but the dangerous driving antics of other chasers (and non-chasers) were captured in multiple clips. Chasers (even those not in immediate danger) were running stop signs, failing to yield, driving on the wrong side of the road, etc. This behavior breeds more bad acts. The few chasers who called them out were heavily chastised and even physically threatened for "policing" the community. It's not so funny now.

    I'll bet in a few weeks this will be forgotten and the circus will go full steam ahead. Sad.
     
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    #137 Warren Faidley, Mar 31, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2017
  13. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    I mean - what's the *worst* possible thing you could think of happening to you as a chaser? Getting hit by a tornado? The Twistex incident was horrible, tragic - but it isn't the *worst* thing. The worst thing is what happened to Kelley. The prospect of being directly responsible for taking someone's life should scare the wits out of everyone. Can you even think of *anything* more horrifying than that? If it were me in his shoes, I'd be glad I didn't survive. Nothing could ever make it fair to the innocent victims, but not surviving could only begin to be my tiny shred of penance. Forget the tornadoes - this is the nightmare that should haunt every chaser and be in the forefront of your mind during the chase. It has been mine and will be even more so now.
     
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    #138 Dan Robinson, Mar 31, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2017
  14. Steve Holmes

    Steve Holmes Member

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    What am I missing here, Dan? Small car vs. big SUV, doesn't the SUV have the advantage through weight and mass?

    I am afraid you're right. There's something in psychology called the Optimism Bias. It encourages us to believe bad things can't happen to us (and that we can't cause bad things to happen). Same deal that keeps us from taking tornado warning more seriously. It can't happen here.
     
  15. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    Meaning if I make a mistake and cause an accident, it will be me that is more likely to fare worse than the occupants of the other vehicle. I'd rather be the one that pays for my mistake than the other person. If Kelley had been driving a Yaris, it might have made a difference for Corbin.
     
  16. Nace Gerhart

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    I just started chasing in 2011 and I can admit that I exercised reckless behavior in the beginning. After a couple of close calls with both nature and on the road, I began questioning my own behavior. My biggest turning point came after Chuck Doswell's presentation at Chasercon 2014 titled Chasing's End of Innocence.


    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G891A using Stormtrack mobile app
     
  17. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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  18. Warren Faidley

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    Doswell also took flack at the time for presenting this -- at the same time Mike B. from TWC was on his victory tour after their own crew was nearly killed. I had no issue taking on TWC for promoting bad highway (and chaser ) behavior, even though they totally blackballed me in the industry for taking a stand.

    The point has always been, you can still chase storms in an aggressive manner and be safe. You can still get as close as you want. Just don't endanger others, including EMS people who have to come to your rescue.
     
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  19. Kevin R Burgess

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    @Warren,
    If I remember correctly,You've mentioned that the TWC had approached you in the past,and you did not agree w/ their terms.
    What were their terms,and could it have lead them to chose a 'lesser', inadvisably qualified person, to produce their product...
    As we know, Williamson had "LIMITED" chasing experience,(5yrs.?)compared to others,including yourself...
    What can the 'weather market' learn from this tragedy ?
     
  20. Warren Faidley

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    I would certainly not consider anyone a "lesser" chaser than me. There are many people chasing who are more skilled at forecasting and videography than myself. We all chase for different reasons. I parted ways with TWC mostly because they began to support dangerous, irresponsible chasing and chasers. Like a lot of media, they drank the Koolaid -- thinking "life saving research" and "spotting" justified illegal highway antics and getting too close. They were also well aware some of the people they were promoting at the time were not completely genuine. They ignored reality in favor of ratings.

    Let's not forget that three people are dead, and we should now be focusing on making chasing safer.
     
  21. ScottCurry

    ScottCurry Member

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    I've been waiting a few days to post my thoughts on this thread. I wanted to wait for people's emotions to die down a little because I didn't want to get bombarded by dislikes for my thoughts.

    Three storm chasers are dead. And it wasn't an accident.

    One of the comments mentioned counting 4 stop signs that the driver blew through. To me, that is not a mistake as many have alluded to. That is a deliberate disregard for the law. Kelley Williamson was a criminal. You can't sugar coat it, or feel sorry for the guy. He deliberately broke the law by blowing through stop signs at 70+ mph. It was just a matter of time before one of those intersections wasn't empty, and he killed someone. He was playing Russian Roulette with a 5,000 lb SUV.

    Shame on The Weather Channel for continuing to contract and air this guy. In my mind, TWC was complacent in the deaths of three storm chasers. They knew this illegal activity was taking place, and they encouraged it by continuing to contract with Mr. Williamson.

    Had Kelley Williamson survived, he would have been charged with 2 counts of manslaughter or vehicular homicide, 4 counts of failing to stop at a stop sign, wreckless driving, and whole slew of other charges. He would have spent the rest of his life in jail. And he should have! He was a criminal, willing to commit murder by driving his vehicle in a grossly negligent manner.

    I don't see this as an accident at all. I view this as a murder-suicide. Because that's what it was.

    I feel deeply sorry for the families of Randall Yarnall and Corbin Jaeger, who were murdered by this criminal.

    No storm is worth murdering someone over. Obey the law. Stop at stop signs. Stop at red lights. Drive the speed limit. Drive on your side of the road. Don't drive distracted. Pull over if you need to look at radar. Make the road and traffic laws your focus. Because if you don't - you could end up killing someone. And you'll have to live with that for the rest of your life.
     
  22. JamesCaruso

    JamesCaruso Member

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    That is noble and honorable of you Dan, but I prefer to be in the larger vehicle for safety - not saying I have never made a mistake, but I do have the ability to control my own actions, whereas I can't control the actions of others. So if someone hits me, I want to be cocooned in a safe vehicle. For work, I now commute weekly from Philadelphia to NYC, and when I took the job I traded in my sedan and leased a Volvo SUV. The higher driving position itself provides more visibility for safer driving.


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  23. rdale

    rdale Member

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    If you feel the need to lock the thread, submit a report to the mods for the offending posts.
     
  24. Warren Faidley

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    I don't see a need to close the thread. This is an emotionally charged (and tragic) subject that needs to be discussed openly and honestly. Ignoring or modifying the reality of what happened, no matter what the opinion, is a mistake. If someone would have openly chastised the chaser(s) involved in the latest event, who knows, it might have prevented this tragedy. In the EMS world, we often have very open discussions about tragedies. It helps people heal, vents anger and eventually leads to better things.
     
  25. Justin Hassie

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    I agree openly discussing something can help the healing process, but some posts are outright disrespectful to the deceased. Yes, if Kelley survived he likely would be charged with manslaughter. I don't think there's anyone that would dispute that. BUT HE DIDN'T SURVIVE. NOBODY DID. There's no denying that mistakes were made, but what's done is done. It's okay to be angry, but it's not okay to create more hurt and heartache by calling Kelley a murderer. I'm sure Kelley's grieving family and close friends have seen these posts. Remember, they are innocent in this as well, and reading some of these contemptuous posts won't help them heal. I truly hope that those who have thrown stones from their glass houses don't end up in a similar situation.
     
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