Via a thread post on Stormtrack, Dan Robinson and Tim Vasquez have outlined storm chasing fatalities since the inception of storm chasing.
The above bar graph graphic, produced by Robinson, illustrates all the storm chasing fatalities (which is fifteen) since the inception of storm chasing.
Robinson, with the help of Vasquez, wrote extensively about eight separate incidents which lead to the deaths of storm chasers’.
2nd April 1984: The first “in the field” chaser death, Christopher Phillips was a twenty-one year old OU meteorology student from New Jersey. Phillips died when he swerved to avoid a rabbit and his car rolled over into a ditch in Oklahoma.
11th July 2005: Norman, Oklahoma resident Jeff Wear was killed on Interstate 20 near Kilgore, Texas after he hydroplaned in heavy rain and struck a flatbed truck head-on. Wear was returning from a chase to intercept Hurricane Dennis.
6th June 2009:Fabian Guerra of Chicago was killed on Interstate 80 in Iowa when he swerved to avoid a deer, crossed the median and struck an oncoming tractor-trailer in the early morning hours of June 6th. Guerra was heading to Nebraska to meet up with two other chasers for a chase in the area later on that day.
4th February 2012: Andy Gabrielson was killed on Interstate 44 near Sapulpa, Oklahoma in a head-on collision with a drunk driver going the wrong way on the highway. Gabrielson was on his way home from a chase earlier on in Oklahoma.
31st May 2013: Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras and Carl Young were killed when the El Reno, Oklahoma Tornado overtook their vehicle. Richard Henderson, resident of Oklahoma, was killed by the Tornado when he went out near his home to observe the storm and take pictures. Something we didn’t know! A fifth fatality involving a likely chaser was uncovered by researchers studying the Tornado and its impacts.
12th July 2015: David and Mildred Frank were killed when a storm chaser ran a stop sign near the town and collided with their vehicle. We have to stipulate that the Franks were not chasers. The chaser survived with minor injuries and was later criminally charged, receiving a ninety-day suspended jail sentence and one year probation1.
28th March 2017: Corbin Jaeger, Kelley Williamson and Randall Yarnall died when the Yarnall/Williamson vehicle ran a stop sign near Spur, Texas and collided with Jaeger’s vehicle. This particular incident has been in the news recently, as Jaeger’s family has filed a civil lawsuit against The Weather Channel.
According to the thread post, Yarnall/Williamson were chasing and live streaming in “official capacity” for The Weather Channel at the time of the crash.
- The Weather Channel responds to lawsuit relating to storm chasers’ fatal wreck
- Lawsuit filed against The Weather Channel in storm chasers’ fatal wreck
20th June 2019:Australian, world-renowned photography, Dale Sharpe died after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 2 near Harper, Kansas. You can read more about this accident here.
Thank you to Dan Robinson and Tim Vasquez for putting this together. We learnt a lot from it and we think others will as well. That’s why we’re writing about it! We recommend that you read the replies in the thread, it’s worth it.
FYA: There is another thread on Stormtrack which lists/memorialising all storm chasers who have passed on – read here. WE URGE YOU TO TAKE A LOOK AT IT!
1: A subsequent civil suit by the family yielded a one hundred thousand dollar judgement. Fatal accidents have happened at the same intersection before, and residents had submitted previous complaints. The chaser despite being in the vicinity of severe storms and posting about them to his Facebook page prior to the accident, states he was not “actively” chasing at the time of the accident.