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Three OU students killed in crash on way back from storm chasing

Officials confirmed three University of Oklahoma meteorology students died in a car crash after storm chasing in Kansas.

WASHINGTON — Three University of Oklahoma meteorology students died in a car crash Friday night on their way back from storm chasing in Kansas, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety said Saturday. 

The crash happened Friday in Tonkawa, Oklahoma, shortly before 11:30 p.m., near the Oklahoma-Kansas border. 

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said in a report that Nicholas Nair, 20, of Denton, Texas, and two passengers were traveling south on I-35 when their SUV hydroplaned, went off the road to the right and then came back onto the interstate. 

The 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan then "became disabled" and was blocking the outside lane when a semi, also traveling south on I-35, crashed into them, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said. 

Nair and his passengers, Gavin Short, 19, of Grayslake, Illinois, and Drake Brooks, 22, of Evansville, Indiana, were pinned in the vehicle for more than five hours while rescue crews worked to get them out. 

All three men were pronounced dead at the scene, the highway patrol said. 


The driver of the semi-truck was taken to a local hospital, where he was treated and released. 

A statement released by OU said: “The university is devastated to learn of the tragic passing of three students. Each were valued and loved members of our community.”

The three meteorology students had been storm chasing in Kansas, where a tornado barreled through parts of the state Friday night and destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes and buildings. 

About three hours before the car crash, the students had spotted the tornado on the ground in Kansas, according to posts on their Twitter accounts

OU Nightly, the student-run newscast at the University of Oklahoma, said Nair served as a student broadcast meteorologist and production crew member on their newscasts this semester. 

Fellow storm chasers have been posting tributes to the three students on social media. 

Meteorologist Reed Timmer wrote: "Heartbreaking loss of 3 OU students in an accident on the way back from chasing. These students are close to my heart and a shining light in the weather community. Words cannot describe the sadness."

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