Three Students Killed In Car Crash After Storm Chasing Tornado In Kansas
Douglas Sacha via Getty Images.

Three college students were killed in a car crash while returning from storm chasing in Kansas late Friday evening.

The students, who were studying meteorology at the University of Oklahoma, were identified as 20-year-old Nicholas Nair of Denton, Texas; 19-year old Gavin Short of Grayslake, Illinois; and 22-year old Drake Brooks of Evansville, Indiana. 

“The three were in a vehicle being driven by Nair southbound on Interstate 35 when the vehicle hydroplaned and was struck by a tractor-trailer rig in Tonkawa, about 85 miles (137 kilometers) north of Oklahoma City,” CBS News reported

According to Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the car the students were in veered into the left lane due to rainy conditions when the tractor-trailer rig then hit it

“Before they could exit their vehicle, a semi came along in the rain and struck them broadside in the interstate,” Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. Phillip Ludwyck of Oklahoma said. 

“It’s just heartbreaking to think we lost three very talented young men. Our hearts and our prayers, just as an agency and as Oklahomans, goes out to the families,” he added. “You know, they lost sons in just a tragic, tragic accident.”

Fellow meteorological student and friend, Brayden Siau, was surprised at how “sudden” the loss was, according to Fox46. “It’s just so sudden,” he said. “They’re just gone, I really don’t know… It’s awful.” 

Siau added that the three students said they had a good time in Kansas and talked to their parents “to tell them how excited they were” after the experience. 

“The university is devastated to learn of the tragic passing of three students. Each were valued and loved members of our community,” the University of Oklahoma said in a statement. 

The tornado that the students had been chasing hit a 13-mile stretch of south-central Kansas and caused damage to more than 1,000 buildings. Wind speeds reached up to 165 miles per hour and the tornado was reportedly on the ground for at least twenty minutes. 

No one was killed in the storm, but four people were injured. The tornado hit Andover, a suburb of Wichita, especially hard. Between 300 and 400 buildings in the area were destroyed, according to Fire Chief Chad Russell.  

Sixteen-thousand people also lost power during the storm, with 15,000 getting power back by Sunday morning. 

“The city of Andover will be affected by this for years,” Russell said. “We still have scars from 1991 (EF-5 tornado). I’m so thankful this tornado was not as bad as that, but we will literally be doing this for years.”

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