The Discovery Channel’s “Storm Chasers” stars Tim Samaras and Carl Young were killed Friday while covering a tornado that ravaged the town of El Reno, Okla., the channel announced Sunday. Samaras’ son Paul was also killed during the storm.
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Tim Samaras, his son Paul and their colleague Carl Young. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families," the Discovery Channel said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter on Sunday.
The Weather Channel reports that the three were overtaken by a large, multiple-vortex tornado as it unexpectedly changed directions. Six other people were also killed in the tornado, ranked as an EF3 with winds as high as per hour.
Samaras, 55, was a highly respected weather researcher who routinely developed high-tech, specialized equipment to more accurately measure extreme weather. Alongside his work on “Storm Chasers,” Samaras was best known for founding TWISTEX (Tactical Weather Instrument Sampling in Tornadoes EXperiment), a research group dedicated to better understanding tornado generation. Young, 45, was his longtime chase partner and driver, and his son Paul, 24, was along as a photographer.
"Thank you to everyone for the condolences. It truly is sad that we lost my great brother Tim and his great son, Paul. Our hearts also go out to the Carl Young family as well as they are feeling the same feelings we are today," Tim's brother Jim Samaras wrote on Facebook.
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Colleagues of Samaras and Young say the two were well known for their safety precautions and that it is unlikely they were putting themselves in danger simply for the thrill. People in the meteorological community said Samaras and Young were devoted researchers who were simply doing their jobs.
"There's just no one safer than Tim. Tim, he would never put himself in danger," CNN meteorologist Chad Myers, who was also covering the Oklahoma storm on Friday, said. "He certainly wouldn't put his son in danger."
Ultimately, Myers said, Samaras was a dedicated research scientist who always attempted to stay on the cutting edge of weather research.
"We all know that this is difficult and dangerous and sometimes things go wrong. But I think to portray Tim as just a chaser out for a thrill is just the wrong thing," Myers continued. "I just want people to know that Tim was a scientist. He was out there to put probes out there. He was out there to learn and understand and to make science more understandable. ... We all go out there and we try to protect the public, but Tim was even one step higher."
Shortly before Samaras and Young died, they filmed the "birth" of an Oklahoma tornado for National Geographic. Watch Samaras' final video below.