Storm chasing community shaken after crash killed Douglas County High School graduate, 2 others

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DENVER -- Douglas County High School graduate Corbin Jaeger, 25, and two Weather Channel contractors were killed Tuesday while chasing a tornado in North Texas.

The two-vehicle crash happened about five miles west of Spur, Texas, officials said.

The storm chasing community is a very tight-knit group, and when tragedy strikes, it has a heavy impact on the entire field.

“We share that bond,” local storm chaser Lanny Dean said. “It affects us all. No doubt about it.”

Dean was chasing the same storm and was just miles away when the accident occurred. He said he did not know Corbin as well as other chasers, but his passion was obvious.

“What an incredible kid,” Dean said. “Saved a ton of money to come out and chase this season by working various jobs. What kind of dedication is that? That’s pure passion and dedication for what you want to do. That’s the kind of kid I knew and what I want to remember.”

Storm chasers are aware of the potential risk in their passion.

“We all know how dangerous it is,” Dean said.

Despite the dangers, Dean said Jaeger was in it for the same reason as most chasers -- to help others.

Authorities identified the other storm chasers killed as Kelley Williamson, 57, and Randall Yarnall, 55, of Cassville, Mo.

The crash occurred when a black Suburban traveling northbound at about 3:30 p.m. ran through a stop sign and collided with Jaeger’s Jeep, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Williamson and Yarnall were contractors for the Weather Channel, the station said in a statement.

The two "were beloved members of the weather community. We are saddened by this loss and our deepest sympathies go out to the families and loved ones of all involved," the Weather Channel said.

Spur is nearly 70 miles east of Lubbock. Fifteen tornado reports had been made Tuesday, mostly in central and northern Texas.