‘Storm Chasers’ Stars Killed While Following Oklahoma Tornado

Veterans Tim Samaras and Carl Young die near El Reno, along with Samaras' son

Last Updated: July 24, 2014 @ 12:33 PM

Discovery's "Storm Chasers" stars Tim Samaras and Carl Young and Samaras's son, Paul, were killed during an Oklahoma storm, the network said Sunday.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Tim Samaras his son Paul and their colleague Carl Young. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families," the network said in a statement.

The trio were killed while chasing a tornado in the city of El Reno on Friday, according to CNN. Samaras was 55 and his son was 24 years old. Samaras' partner Young was 45.

Canadian County Undersheriff Chris West confirmed to CNN that three storm chasers had been killed but declined to provide additional details about the circumstances of their deaths. At the intersection where authorities said the three storm chasers were killed, crews hauled away a mangled white truck Sunday that had been crushed like a tin can. The truck's frame was twisted and the windows were smashed.

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Five tornadoes touched down in central Oklahoma on Friday and caused flash flooding just 11 days after a twister categorized as EF5, the most powerful ranking, tore up the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore and killed 24 people. Severe storms also swept into neighboring Missouri, while Moore experienced only limited damage.

The Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on Sunday increased the death toll to 10 after listing nine fatalities on Saturday.

Samaras said that tornadoes had fascinated since childhood, in an interview with National Geographic last month.

"I watched 'The Wizard of Oz' when I was a kid and vowed to myself, 'I'm going to see that tornado one day.' Tornadoes have pretty much become a focus of my life," he said.

National Geographic Society executive vice-president Terry Garcia issued this statement on Sunday.

“Tim was a courageous and brilliant scientist who fearlessly pursued tornadoes and lightning in the field in an effort to better understand these phenomena. The National Geographic Society made 18 grants to Tim for research over the years for field work like he was doing in Oklahoma at the time of his death, and he was one of our 2005 Emerging Explorers. …

"Though we sometimes take it for granted, Tim's death is a stark reminder of the risks encountered regularly by the men and women who work for us. This is an enormous loss for his family, his wide circle of friends and colleagues and National Geographic."

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A friend and colleague, Tony Laubach, said that Samaras was no cowboy when it came to his job and that research, rather than getting “the money shot,” was his motivation.

“Tim Samaras was the best there was and he was the last person you would think this would happen to,” Laubach, a photojournalist who had been storm chasing with Samaras since 2007, told Reuters.

“It’s going to bring everybody down to earth. A lot of chasing has been getting very, very careless, and Tim is not a careless person. He is as nimble and skilled as he could be,” Laubach said.

An Oklahoma tornado special airing on Discovery on Sunday will be dedicated to the storm chasers, it will read: "In memory of Tim Samaras, Carl Young and Paul Samaras who died Friday, May 31st doing what they love, chasing storms."

On his Facebook page, Tim's brother Jim Samaras thanked those who have offered condolences.

"It truly is sad that we lost my great brother Tim and his great son, Paul. Our hearts also go out to the Carl Young family as well as they are feeling the same feelings we are today," he wrote.

"Our hearts also go out to the Carl Young family as well, as they are feeling the same feelings we are today," he added. "They all unfortunately passed away but doing what they LOVED. Chasing tornadoes. I look at it that he is in the 'big tornado in the sky…'"