Community Remembers Storm Chasers Killed In May 31st Tornado One Year Later

Saturday, May 31st 2014, 7:59 pm
By: News 9

A year ago Saturday marks the anniversary of the widest tornado ever recorded. It touched down in the city of El Reno, where 8 people lost their lives, including 3 well-known storm chasers.

"Great scientists, amazing people and better friends," said Erik Cox.

A makeshift memorial with flowers, rocks and three crosses were set up to honor the three storm chasers, who died in the May 31st tornado.

Dozens of storm chasers met in El Reno to pay tribute.

"I was still in shock hearing about the loss of Twistex, said Nicholas Rutledge, OKC storm chaser. "I mean you watch them on T.V. and they were the experts."

On 10th Street and South Radio Road is where famous storm chaser Tim Samaras, his son Paul Samaras and fellow chaser Carl Young died.

5/6/2014 Related Story: Deputy Works To Create Memorial For Samaras Storm Chasing Team

Canadian County Deputy Doug Gerten recalls finding Tim inside his white mangled car.

"You kind of get that helpless feeling knowing that there's nothing you can do even though you pray and hope," said Gerten. "I was on the way to my farm land when I saw Tim's car in the middle of field."

The group walked about a half mile west to the place where Paul and Carl were found near a creek.

Storm tracker Justin Dill of Yukon says last year's tragedy changed how he chases storms.

"I think it gives each of us out here a different perspective on what it is that we're doing," said Dill. "A lot of us are safer and take more precaution to what happens out here."

The small gathering sang "Amazing Grace" and then sent three big orange balloons in the air at exactly 6:28 p.m. when the three trackers died.

Canadian County has set up a memorial fund to place a permanent monument in El Reno to honor all those who lost their lives on May 31, 2013.