We see their videos going viral online, those intrepid storm chasers who get up close and personal with some monstrous tornadoes ripping across the Great Plains and down Tornado Alley. But at what price, as capturing these deadly storms can be incredibly dangerous.
According to the litigation filed by the survivors of one storm-chaser, that price tag might be $125 million. At least that is the amount of damages the plaintiffs are seeking in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against defendants that include The Weather Channel.
Conditions were ripe for tornadic activity on March 28, 2017, when the two stars of The Weather Channel's (TWC) Storm Wranglers set out in their Chevrolet Suburban at 70 mph to track the darkening clouds near Spur.
At roughly the same time, another weather spotter, a 25-year-old National Weather Service employee from Arizona, was tracking the same storm from his Jeep.
As the two storm wranglers raced toward the tornado, they live-streamed their progress on The Weather Channel's Facebook page. The 57-year-old man stated, "[t]he storm isn't very far in front of us right now. Actually, that's what the dark is you're seeing right there."
At that point, the driver, age 55, blew through a stop sign and directly into the path of the man in the jeep. All died in the initial impact.
The younger man's mother filed the wrongful death lawsuit against the network this month, citing the storm chasers' past history of recklessness that caused her son's death in the collision.
According to the petition for damages, the two men had a "well-documented history of dangerous behavior behind the wheel." Plaintiff claimed that The Weather Channel ignored and encouraged the men's reckless driving in order to film "particularly exciting footage."
The attorney for the plaintiff claimed that the two TWC storm trackers had a habit of violating traffic safety regulations, including running red lights, while they shot footage of tornadoes around the country.
This lawsuit shows that no driver is above the law, regardless of what they are trying to accomplish while simultaneously driving. If you lost a loved one due to another driver's negligence, you may also need to take legal action in order to pursue financial compensation for your losses.