Silver Lining Tours vans rolled in Kansas

Jay Murdock

Enthusiast
Jan 25, 2017
7
12
1
Oxford, Ohio
Statement from the Silver Lining Tours FB page:

As many of you are aware, we had a very unfortunate incident happen last night. While chasing the Lawrence, KS tornadic supercell, we were hit with a rain wrapped satellite tornado 2 miles southeast of the parent circulation. Two vans were rolled resulting in a few minor injuries. If you understand severe weather you will know these satellite tornadoes can not be predicted. Keeping that in mind, we kept ourselves 2 miles southeast of the main circulation that hadn’t formed a tornado yet. We could see the wall cloud off to our northwest and decided to drop back south to highway 59 where we were going to continue our chase east. One mile south of where we turned around is where we encountered the rain wrapped satellite. Two of our vans were not effected. With any luck at all and if there had been any more space in between the vans, there wouldn’t be a need to write this today as the small tornado would have passed in between us. Roger and Caryn GREATLY appreciate the outpouring of private messages and phone calls. We still do consider ourselves careful chasers as our safety record proves that. Let this serve to ALL chasers as a reminder that it CAN happen to you. STAY SAFE!!!

 
Jun 16, 2015
459
1,053
21
32
Oklahoma City, OK
quincyvagell.com
I might have seen them. I was very close to the circulation as it was starting to really tighten up. It was south of Lawrence when I saw several white vans in the direct path of the tornado, to my north. I was rushing to get east as the tornado was quickly growing in size.

It’s possible that they were caught off guard (a few minutes earlier, I was near Lone Star Park when the storm dropped almost directly on top of me) This thing went from non-tornado to significant tornado in just a few minutes.

Other than that, I was concerned that vans were passing me to go north about 1-2 minutes before this radar image:
F15F795C-6625-4623-8146-1B3240FDC3CD.png
I turned east moments later and saw several vans a block to my north.
 
They would be much better off making no statements, given the radar image. I feel for them and wish them and their client’s the best. The quest and pressure to deliver clients closer and closer to the action is risky. I’ve been in this position and it’s very frustrating. I’ve sent many clients to Silver Lining Tours who wanted a van tour because I believe they are one of the best.
 
There are a host of complications that could result from this, including rental agreements and State / Federal law. Beyond the legal or civil possibilities, this will likely result in some form of regulation, or at least start the debate again. My wife is an attorney who use to specialize in corporate and private motor vehicle law. She’s told me more than once that insurance and rental companies have had meetings and discussions about chasing. I trust the injuries were minor, but once attorneys get involved, everything will change. This will be the last year I’m taking clients with me. Not because of this event, but between the crowds changing liability awareness and risk, it’s not worth it.
 
If you want to get close to something deadly, then play with snakes or explosives. As a volunteer first responder I’m offended by people who are only thinking of themselves. The men and women who must respond to your aid often place themselves in grave danger. I simply don’t understand this philosophy. Having said this, I do understand getting close w/o endangering yourself or others. But those days are (75 percent or higher) gone with so much traffic. I suspose one could get really close with no issues on an isolated, high visibility, slow moving storm like Campo. I’ll even take that risk. But big wedges often produce low / rain-wrapped visibility, satellite vortices and shifting / widening mesos. People have forgotten El Reno too soon.
 
Last edited:
Jun 19, 2005
790
40
6
New Mexico
This is what I've written regarding this:

I once tried to find an insurer for a storm chasing tour company I was trying to setup where I would drive the vehicle. I tried to meet what I thought were the law mandated commercial insurance requirements. Honestly, I couldn't find a company to insure me if I told the truth. I remember Silver Lining listing their insurance company after doing a US dot search. So I called the company that was listed to insure them. I called and said I noticed you insure a storm chasing tour company, the representative who answered didn't know about insuring a storm chasing tour company. Maybe the representative wasn't knowledgeable, but after being declined, I noticed the following season Silver Lining didn't list them as their insurer. Frustrated by not being able to meet the requirements I started talking with State and Federal regulators. What I found was regulators take the path of least resistance in real life. The State regulators claimed storm chasing tours fell under federal requirements, and Federal regulators claimed it was to be regulated by states. In the process I found that you could claim transportation was incidental to the activity. That is viewing or photographing the storm was the main purpose, and transportation was incidental. Then poof, most of those requirements I thought existed went away. That was enough to put you in a gray area where you would be left alone from the regulators. Whether that was actually the case, or whether that would cover you against the claims, would be settled in court once there was a significant enough accident, so I was told by one of those regulators. Maybe Silver Lining found the unicorn that would insure them, maybe this isn't still a significant enough accident that the gray area will remain. All I know is I'm glad it's not worse, and I am glad I went back to not operating tours as the driver.
 
Anyway, why do people want to get so close?
To each their own, IMO. I personally like to sit back a bit, but If people can do it safely (i.e., good visual, an escape route or two), then sure, why not. I was on this storm not too far from where this happened and there was no structure, at least not right before it produced the tornado. Too much low-level cloud cover blocking the view of the storm, so if you wanted to see anything, you had to be right up in it. I bailed on it because I didn't feel like chasing a rain-wrapped monster through an urban area.
 
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Mark Blue

Staff member
Supporter
Feb 19, 2007
2,816
351
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Colorado
SL does require a waiver form to be signed before they’ll take you out. I know the answers to some of the speculation going on in this thread, but Roger is the one who got me off the bench and into the game back in 2005-06. Since I think the world of him and Caryn I’ll refrain from spilling the beans, because it looks like they’re already under the gun (so to speak) with attorneys, insurance, KS law, basically the whole nine yards. The last thing I want to do is make it worse by running my mouth.

Just a little over a year ago we were doing a Go Fund Me thing for them to be able to carry on having Chaser Conventions. With that fact and this latest incident it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say this could financially ruin them. @Jason Persoff if you want someone to partner with or to help out in any way I’ll be ready should we need another fund raiser.

This may or may not change storm chasing. I hope it does and for the better. It’s getting crazier every year and until the beast is tamed these incidents will be on the increase whether we like it or not.
 
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Jun 19, 2005
790
40
6
New Mexico
SL does require a waiver form to be signed before they’ll take you out.
A waiver doesn't make mandated insurance requirements go away, and the only way you find out if a waiver holds up is in court. Best way to keep this from blowing up is request the bill, and pay out of pocket until the money dries up. Unless you really did tell the truth on your insurance application.
 
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Apr 3, 2010
120
43
20
Shreveport, LA
SL does require a waiver form to be signed before they’ll take you out. I know the answers to some of the speculation going on in this thread, but Roger is the one who got me off the bench and into the game back in 2005-06. Since I think the world of him and Caryn I’ll refrain from spilling the beans, because it looks like they’re already under the gun (so to speak) with attorneys, insurance, KS law, basically the whole nine yards. The last thing I want to do is make it worse by running my mouth.

Just a little over a year ago we were doing a Go Fund Me thing for them to be able to carry on having Chaser Conventions. With that fact and this latest incident it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say this could financially ruin them. @Jason Persoff if you want someone to partner with or to help out in any way I’ll be ready should we need another fund raiser.

This may or may not change storm chasing. I hope it does and for the better. It’s getting crazier every year and until the beast is tamed these incidents will be on the increase whether we like it or not.
It doesn't matter if they have their guests sign waivers. Acts of gross negligence cannot be waived before they occur, and a good attorney could easily argue this to be an act of gross negligence. Also, why mention that you know the answers at all if you aren't going to say what they are?