Three OU meteorology students died in a car crash Friday night while returning to Norman after chasing storms near the Oklahoma-Kansas border.
Nicholas Nair, 20, Gavin Short, 19, and Drake Brooks, 22, were pronounced dead at the scene after driving south near Tonkawa on Interstate 35 around 11 p.m. when their 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan hydroplaned and drove off the road, according to Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
The SUV got back on the road but became disabled – blocking the outside lane – and was hit by a semi-truck.
The crash happened just three hours after students recorded a tornado around 8 p.m. north of Herrington, Kansas, according to Short’s Posting on Twitter.
The OU College of Atmospheric and Geographical Sciences wrote in a statement that OU officials are in communication with the families of the students.
– Oklahoma Weather (@ousom) April 30, 2022
Daniel Carter, a sophomore in OU meteorology, wrote in a Instagram post that the three students were among his best friends at OU, adding that Short was “the smartest, brightest person you’ll ever meet” and that Nair was a “shining light” on campus. Carter wrote that while he didn’t know Brooks as well as Short and Nair did, they shared great conversations about weather and video games.
“They were all very talented in the weather department and it never went unnoticed,” Carter wrote. “I never expected the day to come when I had to rest a friend, let alone three at a time. I will miss the days of storm chasing with these three amazing men I used to call my best friends.
Marissa McGuire wrote in a Instagram post that Short was one of the smartest people she knew, adding that she liked the way he pulled out his laptop with several weather-related programs and websites open. McGuire wrote that Nair was one of the “sweetest” and “friendliest” people she knew.
“You can always count on (Nair) for a joke or a smiley face,” McGuire wrote. “Once in a while, when I came back from physics, we would meet and he would always give me a hug. Because that’s what he did, for everyone.
The students were pinned down for about five hours and 26 minutes before being extracted by Tonkawa Fire and EMS, according to OHP. The driver of the tractor-trailer was transported to hospital and was treated and released.
The cause of the collision is still under investigation by OHP.