More information emerges on three meteorologies from the University of Oklahomawhen their vehicle was hit by a tractor-trailer rig in northern Oklahoma on Friday night. The students were returning from a hunt officials confirmed, and they had posted a video of a twister just hours before they died.
Nicholas Nair, 20, of Denton, Texas; Gavin Short, 19, of Grayslake, Ill.; and Drake Brooks, 22, of Evansville, Indiana, died in the crash shortly before 11:30 p.m. Friday, according to an Oklahoma Highway Patrol report.
The three were in a vehicle driven by Nair southbound on Interstate 35 when the vehicle hydroplaned in Tonkawa, about 85 miles north of Oklahoma City, according to the report.
“It looks like they hydroplaned, hit a barrier wall, then became disabled across the freeway,” OHP Lt. Phillip Ludwyck told KWTV.
The vehicle drove off, then returned to the highway where it was struck by a southbound semi-trailer truck, according to OHP. The three students were pinned down for more than 5 hours, then released by the first responders on site.
“This terrible news hits hardest, of course, those who knew Drake, Nic and Gavin best – their families, friends, faculty, staff and other significant people in their lives,” wrote university president Joseph Harroz, Jr., in a letter Sunday. “Since their untimely death, there has been a tremendous outpouring of love and affection for each of them, not just at OU, but beyond.”
In a separate space statementthe school’s College of Atmospheric and Geographical Sciences urged students to seek help, if needed, as “we are all mourning this unthinkable grief”.
Nair contributed to the university’s newscast, OU Nightly, and one of his weather reports was on the newscast’s website Thursday.
“You think about the future they had and the intelligence and the wisdom and it’s just heartbreaking to think that we’ve lost three very talented young men,” Ludwyck told the station.
The tractor-trailer driver was taken to hospital where he was treated and released, OHP said.
The report indicates that it was raining at the time of the accident and that the road surface was wet.
“Drake, Nic and Gavin were united in a common passion,” the university president wrote in his letter. “As we mourn this immeasurable and profound loss, we also remember the root of their chosen calling, which was to help others. Their pursuit of this calling is admirable and inspires us all.”
On Saturday, the National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma, dedicated its weather balloon launch to the three students.