Storm chaser from Minn. killed in Oklahoma crash

11:48 AM, Feb 5, 2012   |    comments
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SAPULPA, Okla. -- Storm chaser Andy Gabrielson survived the hunt for tornadoes for more than 10 years, but driving home Saturday afternoon after two days of chasing storms in north Texas, he could not avoid a wrong-way driver on an Oklahoma highway, The Weather Channel reported.

Gabrielson and one other person died in a head-on collision that involved four vehicles on Interstate 44 in Sapulpa, Okla., 14 miles southwest of Tulsa, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said.

Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. George Brown said a wrong-way driver of a white pickup truck traveling westbound struck Gabrielson's often-seen black Chevrolet Tahoe head-on in the eastbound traffic lane. Another person was killed in the collision.

Alcohol is suspected as a cause of the crash, the Highway Patrol said.

Gabrielson, two weeks shy of his 25th birthday, was among several chasers who accompanied The Weather Channel's Mike Bettes and crew on "Tornado Hunt" and was a frequent contributor to severe weather coverage on the network.

He was also featured on NBC's "Dateline."

His father, Greg, told Gabrielson's employer, Severe Studios, about his death, the company noted on its website.

Just Friday, Gabrielson was featured on WFAA in Dallas, as he and other storm chasers came to north Texas to track severe storms.

"I saw my first tornado when I was 7," Gabrielson told WFAA while driving his black Chevy Tahoe. "Ever since, I've been interested in weather." His Tahoe was equipped with a laptop computer for radar and camera to stream video to the web.

His SUV also had a protective coating similar to dark material found in the beds of pick-up trucks.

He replaced the windshield about 40 times, he told the station.

Gabrielson, who stayed in Oklahoma City during severe weather season, lived in Luverne, Minn., and leaves behind a 3-year-old daughter.

He founded the website FindTheTornado.com.

A memorial page for Gabrielson has been set up on Facebook.

(Copyright 2012 by MSNBC. All Rights Reserved.)

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