A New Tornado is Brewing on the High Plains of West Texas
Today, I read about a recent lawsuit regarding a horrific 2017 crash that killed three people in far West Texas. The wreck occurred when storm chasers, hired by The Weather Channel, were livestreaming their chase of a tornado near the town of Spur, southeast of Lubbock, Texas. You can read about the wreck and suit that was filed here.
As an experienced car accident lawyer, I have been asked before: “How is The Weather Channel responsible for its employees chasing a storm and killing a young National Weather Service employee who was driving away from the storm?” The answer is simple. The Weather Channel hired these men to chase storms and record video of tornados doing what tornados do: create mayhem. Further, The Weather Channel either implicitly or explicitly approved of the two drivers livestreaming while speeding on the rural roads of West Texas to obtain captivating video.
Think for a minute about what The Weather Channel knew before it chose to send the two storm trackers into harms’ way. The channel knew that storm chasing itself is an activity that can endanger others. The channel knew that its employees would regularly and consistently race down unfamiliar rural roads to record this kind of footage. Finally, they knew that people in the path of the storm would be doing everything humanly possible to get out its way. The situation was a recipe for disaster, and The Weather Channel knew it in advance.
The 28-page lawsuit filing alleges that video evidence in the weeks and months leading up to the wreck proves The Weather Channel ignored their employees’ regular and habitual reckless driving on live feed video. This careless behavior included running dozens of stop signs and traffic lights, driving on the wrong side of the road, passing while unsafe, and driving through public and private property. If that was not bad enough, other storm trackers allegedly warned The Weather Channel about their drivers’ dangerous behavior multiple times before the accident, to no avail.
There is a storm brewing out in West Texas—one of accountability and responsibility for the needless death of a young man caught in a tornado of poor driving. Instead of nature, this storm was driven by The Weather Channel’s need for dramatic footage and the vicarious thrill of the audience as TWC’s employees recklessly raced around the countryside, literally throwing caution to the wind. I, for one, hope that standards are developed or enforced as a result of this tragedy to ensure that innocents in the path of the storm are no longer victimized by those who profit on the mayhem of weather in Tornado Alley.