Silver Lining Tours vans rolled in Kansas

Jun 16, 2015
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quincyvagell.com
I was recently contacted by one of the tour participants who was injured in this event. She is very concerned and wants help, but has asked me to not share her name. Based on her accounts, which I asked her to share in her own words, and the fact that she reached out to me specifically, I have no reason to disbelieve in anything that she shared.

From what I can gather, she is challenging that the tour group breached their contract when they ended the tour early after the incident on May 28th, 2019, when the tour was scheduled to continue through the 31st. Prior to the incident, she said they mentioned they were going to chase in Texas on the 29th, but after the incident, they changed their tune, saying that there were no more storms to chase for the rest of the tour.

She also shared some disturbing information that seems to solidify the case that SLT knowingly made poor decisions and tried to cover up what had really happened. Additionally, she says that the group has been unresponsive to her repeated attempts to follow up with them about the incident, during which she was injured (minor physical injuries, but much more significant psychological ones), had the tour ended early and some of her belongings were damaged or destroyed.

Unfortunately, based on the verbiage in the Tour Agreement that she passed along to me, I'm not sure that she a strong enough case to file any sort of dispute against SLT. This is where you all may come in, as I will share some direct quotes from her and see if anyone has any insight. I am not an attorney and I am not an expert with storm chase tours, so I told her I would reach out to some peers and see what we could come up with.

Since she does not live in the United States, this makes this situation even more difficult. In her perspective, she put a lot of trust and money into this tour, only to have it cut short after several in the tour were injured. It sounds like one individual was seriously injured. Below I will share direct quotes from her to better tell her side of the story. In addition to helping her out, I think some of what she said is very eye opening about how SLT operates, including a claim that they did not have any first aid kits on hand, despite claiming on their website that they did. Even I carry a first aid kit and I chase alone...
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In my opinion, if SLT were to handle this incident in good faith, is it too much to ask that they at least offer a partial refund to the group, since the six day tour was cut in half? If that's too much to ask, why not at least be honest with them on the 29th and explain, that due to extreme circumstances, that they trip was going to be ended early and that they would do anything that they could to make up for this? It sounds like the tour just ended and the participants were left in limbo until they hired additional vehicles to transport the participants back to Denver. Also, if this was truly an accident, why would they ignore messages from participants who made major sacrifices and payments to join their tour? Even something as simple as "we're sorry about the incident and we are here to help you. Let us know what we might be able to do in order to resolve any concerns."

The more I hear, the more I am disturbed about this incident.

Why risk so many issues? I would be thoroughly embarrassed if I had a tour group and an incident like this happened. I would want to be as transparent as possible about what happened and try to be there for the participants who could have lost their lives. The only thing that silence does is lead to more suspicion that there was a cover-up.
 
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Jan 31, 2017
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Joplin, MO & Iowa City, IA
Something very telling in her messages. To paraphrase: "I was in shock. That's why I was so quiet in the days after. Having had time to process it, I'm getting angry."

Those of you who have been in damage zones right after tornadoes recognize this. Shock numbs survivors at first. It seems like they should be angry or impatient or grieving or whatever, but the body shuts down the mind in self-defense. Eventually, though, a person "wakes up." I expect more of SLT's clients to speak up as they wake up.

As to Quincy's suggestion that SLT say, "We're sorry about the incident": I bet a lawyer has told them to avoid saying that for fear it can be taken as admission of guilt. Some states have "I'm Sorry" laws that allow people, usually doctors, to apologize without it coming back to bite them in court, but this is far from universal.
 
Jun 19, 2005
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Have her contact the FMCSA, help organize a story so the FMCSA gives a crap...

Edit: Mentioning the crash was in another state from where it started, and there were injuries may help when contacting them. I would also write an actual letter, not an email.

For a news story, just need a reporter to ask the state and federal regulators why they don't care about tour safety or insurance, and mention you are talking to the state and fed side, that way they can't pawn it off as a federal or state issue. Like I said I was told by a regulator, nothing is going to happen till someone dies. I'm sure a quote like that would go over well.
 
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Jun 19, 2005
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SLT is based out of Colorado, correct? Maybe start with that state's FMCSA office.
 
Since I deal with transporting goods rather than people, I don't know off hand in what manner FMCSA regulations apply here. While I seldomly encounter tour groups in the field, I don't recall seeing a DOT/ICC number OR an IFTA sticker on the sides of any tour vans that I have seen. If they do not require a DOT/ICC number (and are not applicable to IFTA), then I'm not certain FMCSA would potentially have jurisdiction here. HOWEVER, if they do have DOT/ICC number, then they are absolutely under FMCSA jurisdiction. I believe this will be the key piece of information that will determine who to reach out to from the regulatory side. It would almost certainly be easier to point someone to FMCSA than it would be to find an applicable state agency, either in the state based out of, or the state then incident occurred in, or both.

Bear in mind, I don't have any first hand knowledge, so there are a lot of "ifs" in my statement. But those are my thoughts as someone who has worked a DOT regulated job for several years now.
 
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Jun 19, 2005
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Since I deal with transporting goods rather than people, I don't know off hand in what manner FMCSA regulations apply here. While I seldomly encounter tour groups in the field, I don't recall seeing a DOT/ICC number OR an IFTA sticker on the sides of any tour vans that I have seen. If they do not require a DOT/ICC number (and are not applicable to IFTA), then I'm not certain FMCSA would potentially have jurisdiction here. HOWEVER, if they do have DOT/ICC number, then they are absolutely under FMCSA jurisdiction. I believe this will be the key piece of information that will determine who to reach out to from the regulatory side. It would almost certainly be easier to point someone to FMCSA than it would be to find an applicable state agency, either in the state based out of, or the state then incident occurred in, or both.

Bear in mind, I don't have any first hand knowledge, so there are a lot of "ifs" in my statement. But those are my thoughts as someone who has worked a DOT regulated job for several years now.
They once did have a usdot number. Reread my posts... State regulators push it off as a federal thing, federal regulators push it off as a state thing. I still highly doubt anyone carries insurance where they truthfully described their activities. Back when SLT had a usdot number, I called the insurer listed asking if I could buy a similar policy. The company representative was surprised that they insured a storm chasing tour company, and the following year they had a different company listed. They don't have a usdot number anymore, so you can't look up their insurer anymore either.
 
They once did have a usdot number. Reread my posts... State regulators push it off as a federal thing, federal regulators push it off as a state thing. I still highly doubt anyone carries insurance where they truthfully described their activities. Back when SLT had a usdot number, I called the insurer listed asking if I could buy a similar policy. The company representative was surprised that they insured a storm chasing tour company, and the following year they had a different company listed. They don't have a usdot number anymore, so you can't look up their insurer anymore either.
With all due respect, I did read, and you made no mention of whether they had a DOT/ICC number or not. That's why I centered my response around that, and the presence of such would determine if they fall under FMCSA authority or not. Now that you've specified that they do not, then no, they do not fall under FMCSA jurisdiction. Like I said, I've been in the trucking industry for a while now, so that's the angle I was coming from on this. No need to be snippy about it.
 
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Jun 19, 2005
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With all due respect, I did read, and you made no mention of whether they had a DOT/ICC number or not. That's why I centered my response around that, and the presence of such would determine if they fall under FMCSA authority or not. Now that you've specified that they do not, then no, they do not fall under FMCSA jurisdiction. Like I said, I've been in the trucking industry for a while now, so that's the angle I was coming from on this. No need to be snippy about it.
This is why it is going to take someone to die before this gets sorted out. Tours say they are not a interstate for-hire operator. They claim transportation is not central to the operation, and thus do not register. This keeps the happy middle ground (for the regulators who don't then need to do anything and the company), except for the customer...
 
Jul 5, 2009
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
Not sure why she wants to talk to chasers? Was she somehow advised not to pursue other options? Something does not sound right.
I agree it seems a little odd, I mean we haven’t heard much from Roger or any of the passengers, and then all of a sudden there’s this...

On the other hand, I could see the difficulty in even knowing where to start when you’re from another country, unfamiliar with how to navigate US laws, trying to follow up remotely from so far away, etc.

But I would think she’d be collaborating with fellow tour group members rather than reaching out to someone that wasn’t involved and that she doesn’t know...

Also, she wants to remain anonymous, but how many female chasers from Australia could have possibly been on that tour??

It’s an intriguing development new nonetheless...
 
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Jul 16, 2013
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I agree it seems a little odd, I mean we haven’t heard much from Roger or any of the passengers, and then all of a sudden there’s this...

On the other hand, I could see the difficulty in even knowing where to start when you’re from another country, unfamiliar with how to navigate US laws, trying to follow up remotely from so far away, etc.

But I would think she’d be collaborating with fellow tour group members rather than reaching out to someone that wasn’t involved and that she doesn’t know...

Also, she wants to remain anonymous, but how many female chasers from Australia could have possibly been on that tour??

It’s an intriguing development new nonetheless...
Your post, as well as Warren's post was kind of the point I was attempting to make over the weekend, and ended up taking a ton of heat over, and eventually was deleted. I know my opinion was not popular, but I stand by what I said. Makes no sense. Seems odd that this lady, who lives in Australia, would reach out to some random chaser/TV Meteorologist, for advice on what is a legal matter. It would make more sense if she reached out to an attorney or someone in the legal field for said advice. Seems like reaching out and providing this information to a random person, who then posts it on a forum, would do more harm to any legal action she wants to make than not. I could be wrong, but just my opinion.
 
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Sep 5, 2019
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Hi everyone. I’ve been following this thread and just joined Stormtrack in order to set the record straight re: some recent posts on here. I was in the same SLT tour van as the woman who contacted Quincy. She lives in Australia, didn’t know how to proceed or navigate our system, saw Quincy’s video about our tornado encounter and reached out to him on the chance that he could help point her in the right direction and to share her concerns about what had happened that day. So there’s nothing odd or suspicious about her messages, and I share many of the concerns she’s raised.
 
Jul 16, 2013
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First of all, nothing against Quency, he just happened to get the letter. Just wanted to make sure no wires got crossed in the discussion. My concern was how this was handled after the event. This is still unclear. It would be total speculation right now.
And same goes for me as well, I have nothing against Quincy or anything.. it just seemed so odd, and random. Would just seem to me that if she wanted advice, the proper route would be to seek legal advice with an attorney. I know that she lives in Australia, but such a discussion could be had over the phone to get the advice she needs. Just my opinion that if she is considering legal options, I don't think making a post detailing her claims where it can now get back to the owners of SLT and give them an advantage and time to come up with a defense. Obviously I'm not an attorney and know nothing about such, so just an assumption.
 
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Hi everyone. I’ve been following this thread and just joined Stormtrack in order to set the record straight re: some recent posts on here. I was in the same SLT tour van as the woman who contacted Quincy. She lives in Australia, didn’t know how to proceed or navigate our system, saw Quincy’s video about our tornado encounter and reached out to him on the chance that he could help point her in the right direction and to share her concerns about what had happened that day. So there’s nothing odd or suspicious about her messages, and I share many of the concerns she’s raised.
Which I get, but if anyone involved is considering legal options, I would refrain from posting details of the claims being made on a forum where said accusations/claims can easily get back to the owners of SLT. I just don't know if that's a smart move, that's just my advice and something to consider going forward. I know that at this point we're going off topic, but just my opinion that posting such details from someone directly involved who is now looking into legal options isn't really a smart move. The owner of SLT is very well aware of this forum, this thread and people connected to him (personal friends, and those who work or worked with him) are members here and can easily give all this information to him involving these claims.
 
Sep 5, 2019
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Which I get, but if anyone involved is considering legal options, I would refrain from posting details of the claims being made on a forum where said accusations/claims can easily get back to the owners of SLT. I just don't know if that's a smart move, that's just my advice and something to consider going forward. I know that at this point we're going off topic, but just my opinion that posting such details from someone directly involved who is now looking into legal options isn't really a smart move. The owner of SLT is very well aware of this forum, this thread and people connected to him (personal friends, and those who work or worked with him) are members here and can easily give all this information to him involving these claims.
Understood. I just wanted everyone to know that she and her messages to Quincy are legit. And, at this point, I have no doubt that SLT is already well aware of the accusations and claims.
 
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Jan 31, 2017
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Joplin, MO & Iowa City, IA
Something else the lady mentioned in her messages to Quincy: Anger that the rest of the tour was cancelled without a refund. Anger that the Hills did not ask if she was OK or needed medical help in the following days. Anger that nobody took her to a store to get personal items replaced.

Anger is one of the big reasons people file lawsuits. They feel they were done wrong by someone who did not care. If she is telling the truth, SLT could have its biggest battle *outside* the courtroom: Very bad PR. Yeah, it would have cost SLT to refund the money for the rest of the trip, and to offer to take the people on a new, shortened trip in a future year, free of charge. But the cost of *not* doing this may be greater. Remove one reason to sue. It's a word-of-mouth business, right? What is the word of mouth on SLT right now?

If this lady wants to really put the screws to 'em, she could contact the TV stations in SLT's home area. They love the appearance of standing up for the wronged little guy (gal). The story almost writes itself. "Jane Doe's first jolt happened when her storm-chasing van was rolled over by a tornado. Her second jolt came when the tour operator cancelled the rest of the tour -- and refused to refund money for the lost days."

It is sad. Had they known anything about crisis management, they could have mother-henned their way out of a lot of their troubles, maybe even come out of it looking *better.* As it is, This is a textbook example of how to do it wrong.
 
I believe other people have said the opposite, including the woman interviewed in CA? I seriously doubt any negative publicity would harm anything. The negative news cycle today is only a few minutes or hours long -- especially in the world of chasing, where you can pull a major stunt and it's over looked. Hate to use the Everest analogy again, but participant numbers sored after the string of fatal accidents.

No one has established any wrong doing as far as we know -- beyond speculation on ST. If there was some type of action, these individuals would not be posting here. They would have been contacted a long time ago as plaintiffs or witnesses, as names of involved parties would have been easily obtained by a subpoena.
 
Jan 31, 2017
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Joplin, MO & Iowa City, IA
I believe other people have said the opposite, including the woman interviewed in CA? I seriously doubt any negative publicity would harm anything. The negative news cycle today is only a few minutes or hours long -- especially in the world of chasing, where you can pull a major stunt and it's over looked. Hate to use the Everest analogy again, but participant numbers sored after the string of fatal accidents.

No one has established any wrong doing as far as we know -- beyond speculation on ST. If there was some type of action, these individuals would not be posting here. They would have been contacted a long time ago as plaintiffs or witnesses, as names of involved parties would have been easily obtained by a subpoena.
So... they might do *more* business as a result of having vans rolled in a tornado? Or maybe a different type of business, the more "xtreme" chasers? I acknowledge this is possible. As to the Everest analogy, the alleged mistakes of the guide (SLT) are a major presence in this story. I don't recall them being front-and-center so much in Everest accounts.

You are right. The news cycle is short, but the Internet's memory is long. Google "Silver Lining Tours" anytime between now and Doomsday and the accident will be prominent. Maybe you're correct that chasers won't care. The non-hardcore chaser, the bucket-list guy who wants to see the wonders of nature, may find this kind of drama a turnoff.
 
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Sep 5, 2019
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If there was some type of action, these individuals would not be posting here. They would have been contacted a long time ago as plaintiffs or witnesses, as names of involved parties would have been easily obtained by a subpoena.
Not necessarily. The legal process is incredibly slow, it's only been a little over 3 months since the incident, and it's very common for claims to be settled before reaching the litigation stage.
 
Jun 19, 2005
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If this lady wants to really put the screws to 'em, she could contact the TV stations in SLT's home area. They love the appearance of standing up for the wronged little guy (gal). The story almost writes itself. "Jane Doe's first jolt happened when her storm-chasing van was rolled over by a tornado. Her second jolt came when the tour operator cancelled the rest of the tour -- and refused to refund money for the lost days."
I kinda doubt this, my impression is there is a close connection to the news room in Denver. Where the crash took place on the other hand...
 

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As a resident of the Denver metro area for a little bit of time now, I can say I have never seen Roger Hill nor heard a mention of SLT on any of the local news broadcasts I have ever watched. Granted, I don't watch a ton of local news, but I have seen dozens of weather segments, including those during spring severe season.