Silver Lining Tours vans rolled in Kansas

Jade Vajna

Enthusiast
May 31, 2019
8
8
1
Vancouver, Canada

It's interesting, and I guess not surprising, that he doesn't want to chase again. I was in the van on Cloud 9 when we got hit 5 years ago. It was my first year chasing. I had never seen a tornado until that day. I totally thought we were going to roll and I remember ducking down to cover my face but holding my camera over my head while it was still recording. Instead of deterring me, that experience solidified my love of severe weather and changed me forever. Not because I wanted to keep getting hit by tornadoes but because, kind of like how skydiving cured my tendency to worry too much, that experience left me feeling less afraid of leaving my comfort zone and trying new things. I followed my passion and it took me to a scary place, but I survived.. and it helped me grow as a person. Anyway, I’ve had 2 glasses of prosecco and it’s past 1am so I’m getting side-tracked and overly introspective.

My point is, if I had been on this tour, I would be one of the passengers defending the tour owners -and it wouldn’t stop me from chasing. I love it too much. Sh*t can and does happen, whether on a tour or not. It’s storm chasing, not a book club or collecting hockey cards. I’m not saying lessons shouldn’t be learned and that recklessness should be excused, but I think when regular society already judges us all for being “crazy” and “having a death wish” and all that, I think we should try and not cast so many stones at each other. We’re all in this glass house together.

Anyway, I just joined ST a couple weeks ago and this is my first post. Hello everyone! :)
 
Mar 30, 2008
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Norman, OK
www.benholcomb.com
I think with all of the info starting to come in, it's clearly obvious they lost situational awareness. I would think this starts to fall under the gross negligence category at this point. I'm no attorney, but nobody signs up for tornado tours to take a risk like that. I take risks like that all the time in my personal vehicle. It'd be different if I had a van full of paying customers.....
 
Jan 16, 2009
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Kansas City
I'm no attorney, but nobody signs up for tornado tours to take a risk like that. I take risks like that all the time in my personal vehicle. It'd be different if I had a van full of paying customers.....
I would think they would be smart enough to have them sign a waiver I sign an actual death waiver to do obstacle course racing and obviously this is more dangerous. There's a lot of people that do nothing in their entire life and did not understand they would sign that waiver quickly not knowing the hands they are in.
 

NickL

Enthusiast
May 23, 2018
2
0
1
Central Kansas
I would think they would be smart enough to have them sign a waiver I sign an actual death waiver to do obstacle course racing and obviously this is more dangerous. There's a lot of people that do nothing in their entire life and did not understand they would sign that waiver quickly not knowing the hands they are in.
I guarantee they have to sign a waiver that release SLT from any and all liability.
 
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Jul 5, 2009
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
Not sure the video really provides all that much new information beyond what was already known based on the analysis others have done of their position, the damage path, and radar. There’s not enough to know what they were seeing in other directions or exactly what they were trying to do when they got hit. It’s evident they were surprised by the tornado, but didn’t we all know that already?
 
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Apr 10, 2008
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Tulsa, OK
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This video doesn't really give any new info other than what it was like the moment they were hit. It's obvious they were not aware of the tornado until just seconds before it hit. I have seen some people more or less insinuating that this proves Roger was being deceitful about claiming it was a satellite tornado. This was already laid to rest when Roger shared Jon Davies' post analysis of the event, confirming they were hit by a separate tornado to the south of the developing eF4.

I drove for Roger on the tour immediately after this tour, and was with some of the guests who were in this incident on their first chase since it happened. They all were adamant about chasing again, and had full confidence in Roger. I have chased with Roger a number of times and I can attest to his experience and dedication to safety.

Tornadoes buried in the RFD gust front are rare, but do occur (5.05.07 Radium, KS) and something one has to be mindful of. In this case the tornado was completely rain wrapped and impossible to see until you were in it. They were making their way south out of the notch where they had tried to get a view of the main circulation which spawned the eF4 tornado. I have done the same maneuver with Roger a number of other times, and have done it on several other chases over the years. I am sure many of you have done this as well. This storm evolved rather quickly. Had the tornado not formed in the RFD, then it would have been just another chase. Instead, a tornado did form, and because it was rain-wrapped it was impossible to see. Roger said in the future he will never again get that close to an HP supercell.

As for the legal side of things, I don't see how this video proves gross negligence. If anything it further strengthens SLT's argument that they didn't see it coming. Everyone who chases with SLT has to sign a waiver acknowledging the danger involved with storm chasing and SLT is not responsible for death or injury. Before this incident, SLT had a great safety track record spanning two decades. They aren't the first tour group to be directly impacted by a tornado and probably won't be the last. Fortunately everyone survived, and hopefully this will be a learning experience for all of us.
 
Nov 13, 2017
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You have a right to certain reasonable expectations when you pay for a service in the United States. Just because someone signed something saying the service they are paying for is not responsible for your safety or injuries and grant them contractual indemnity, that someone could still successfully sue over those matters without that being a major hurdle.

Not a lawyer, but owned a business for years. Fine print is little more than words on a page for a good contract lawyer.
 
I am saying this more for the benefit of less experienced chasers and members of the general public who may be reading this thread than as a comment on the judgment of anyone at SLT. People should understand that the maneuver that Greg McLaughlin describes above - driving into the notch of an HP supercell then heading south into (or closely ahead of) the RFD is an inherently dangerous move. For a couple reasons. First, if you are in the notch of an HP supercell, you are in likely in the path of the mesocyclone/potential tornado. Second, if you escape by heading south into or close to the RFD, you are risking, at the least, intense crosswinds and/or hail. Yes, tornadoes are rare there though they do occasionally happen, but there are other dangers associated with being in the RFD, especially if there is heavy rain there such that you can't see what is going on in there. Personally, I generally avoid the notch of an HP supercell, except in the rare case where I have a good path to that location AND I have a good eastward or northeastward escape route and am confident I can get out of there when I need to.
 

Jeff Duda

Resident meteorological expert
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Oct 7, 2008
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People should understand that the maneuver that Greg McLaughlin describes above - driving into the notch of an HP supercell then heading south into (or closely ahead of) the RFD is an inherently dangerous move. For a couple reasons. First, if you are in the notch of an HP supercell, you are in likely in the path of the mesocyclone/potential tornado. Second, if you escape by heading south into or close to the RFD, you are risking, at the least, intense crosswinds and/or hail. Yes, tornadoes are rare there though they do occasionally happen, but there are other dangers associated with being in the RFD, especially if there is heavy rain there such that you can't see what is going on in there.
Agreed. I mean...31 May 2013 should be the only case anyone needs to cite on this. That exact maneuver cost so many people in various ways.
 
Jul 5, 2009
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
I am saying this more for the benefit of less experienced chasers and members of the general public who may be reading this thread than as a comment on the judgment of anyone at SLT. People should understand that the maneuver that Greg McLaughlin describes above - driving into the notch of an HP supercell then heading south into (or closely ahead of) the RFD is an inherently dangerous move. For a couple reasons. First, if you are in the notch of an HP supercell, you are in likely in the path of the mesocyclone/potential tornado. Second, if you escape by heading south into or close to the RFD, you are risking, at the least, intense crosswinds and/or hail. Yes, tornadoes are rare there though they do occasionally happen, but there are other dangers associated with being in the RFD, especially if there is heavy rain there such that you can't see what is going on in there. Personally, I generally avoid the notch of an HP supercell, except in the rare case where I have a good path to that location AND I have a good eastward or northeastward escape route and am confident I can get out of there when I need to.
That’s the exact reason we bailed on the Imperial storm on 27 May of this year. We were coming in behind the storm on the road from Holyoke and had to do a bit of a hook slice to get into the southeast quadrant, which had its own risks. By the time we got into the SE quadrant in Imperial, the meso was to the NW. The only road north was 61. If we did that, there wouldn’t be an east option for 30 miles (Route 23 out of Grant/Madrid). Felt like my only escape option would be to backtrack south on 61 but figured by then the RFD would have encroached on the road and I’d be back in the hook. Maybe we were a little too conservative, we had worked hard to get to that spot and had little to show for it without trying to get closer to the meso, but we had to make a quick decision and we bailed. It wouldn’t really be chasing if I wasn’t still second-guessing myself.
 
Sep 29, 2011
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Fort Worth, TX
www.passiontwist.com
There is no mystery to any of this. They were there because they chose to be. Any way you wanna slice it or whatever you wanna dress it up as, they f'ed up. Not to besmirch anyone's name or reputation, but a fact's a fact. I've not given my full opinion on the matter publicly, but that will change Sunday night with the new episode of Dead Chasers Society.
 
Jun 16, 2015
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Oklahoma City, OK
quincyvagell.com
I understand that from a legal perspective, they can't admit any guilt, but in all honesty, I don't think this incident can be defended.

I crossed paths with them two minutes before the incident. Why are they driving south when there's a northeast-moving, rain-wrapped mesocyclone approaching/overtaking? We passed at a main intersection with paved escape routes in all directions. They chose to drive south, directly into the (tornado). I drove east and even I was nervous that I had cut it too close and I'll admit that any time, as I already have on multiple occasions.

If you're a solo chaser or even in a group of chasers, go ahead, make the risky drive south to potentially drive through a tornado and at the very least, severe wind gusts that can blow a vehicle over.

If you're a tour group, I don't even know why you're that close in the first place to a rain-wrapped, near zero visibility mess. I don't think I or anyone else can add any other insight that hasn't already been discussed at length in this thread. Even if you don't think you're driving directly into a tornado, there's a strong possibility that you're driving directly into a debris path and then you have no way out.

The only (weak) argument you can make is that they were trying to drive south to get on the other side of the storm and I can't fathom doing that with a chase group in this type of situation. Sure, you don't want to be overly cautious and miss out on a storm, but you definitely don't want to be overly risky and almost get someone killed. They even had radar going in the video, so it's not like they were blindly driving through a storm.
 
Jan 16, 2009
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Kansas City
I have attached the Tough Mudder "death waiver" for reference ... they cover everything nicely. I do think there is a real case here if they did not have a complete waiver that was looked over by several lawyers. Even if the people in the van had no knowledge of what actions could be sue for this thread has definitely laid a path for them be it by design or over wise.
 

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Releases do not cover events where there is overwhelming proof of negligence. Negligence in civil law is defiend as follows: "Negligence refers to any failure to exercise reasonable care in one’s actions, resulting in injury or damage to another person or party. Negligence, the most common form of civil lawsuit, falls under the category of unintentional behavior, as opposed to intentional acts of harm."

For example: Acme Ultimate Spin Tours is **aware** that on big chase days, along lines of cars are possible near storms. They are also **aware** that long lines of cars could create a very dangerous situation. Acme drives towards a big storm with hundreds of vehicles clogging roads. Acme **decides** to join the caravan when they could have **avoided** it. An accident with injuries completely blocks the roadway in all directions. A secondary storm produces a violent tornado, preventing Acme's retreat. The twister hits Acme's van killing all 10 passengers.

No release is going to cover that situation.

This is NOT a direct comparison to the current situation as all the facts are not known. It does illustrate civil "negligence" when obvious hazards are known to exist and they are ignored. If a volleyball-sized hailstone is hurled 10 miles from the parent storm, hitting a tour van, one could argue it was a freak accident and did not involve an obvious risk.

Having said this, the obvious legal antidote is that participants should be aware of the dangers. The best example of accepted risk would be climbing Mt. Everest. The participants are well aware of the multitude of deadly events that can kill you from HAPE to avalanches.
 
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Dan Robinson

Staff member
Jan 14, 2011
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stormhighway.com
If I was a defense attorney, I might present the following questions to the plaintiffs:

Can you point to me a source of information - a manual, guide, course, tutorial, textbook, lecture, science paper, article, blog post, web page - one widely recognized in storm chasing as authoritative and credible - that declares a general HP RFD transect as a 100% no-go scenario? Can you provide any evidence that the tour owner should have known this maneuver brought with it a high risk of what occurred?