Photo courtesy of Robert A. Ball
The mother of a Texas man who was killed when his vehicle collided with an SUV driven by a storm-chasing television crew has filed a $125 million lawsuit against The Weather Channel.
The suit by Karen Di Piazza of Glendale, Ariz. says her son 25-year-old son Corbin Lee Jaeger had the right of way on March 28, 2017 when a Chevrolet Suburban driving for The Weather Channel’s “Storm Wranglers” program ran a stop sign at 70 mph into the path of his Jeep. Weather Channel personalities Kelley Williamson and Randy Yarnall routinely ran stop signs and drove recklessly, according to the lawsuit.
Jaeger was a storm spotter for the National Weather Service. He was driving away from a tornado reported near Spur, Texas while Williamson and Yarnall were headed into the storm while live-streaming for their television audience, according to the suit. All three men died in the crash.
The Weather Channel had been warned by other storm chasers that it should pull their stars off the road before they killed themselves or someone else, according to a press release from Di Piazza’s attorney, Robert A. Ball in San Diego.
The suit says that the windshield of the Suburban that Yarnell was driving was seriously obstructed by equipment, including a radar screen, cell phone, video camera and computer.
The men were live-streaming at the time of the accident. A 2 1/2-hour video of their travels shows their vehicle running four stop signs before it was struck by Jaeger’s Jeep. The collision propelled the Suburban over a five-foot tall fence 150 feet from the point of impact, Ball said.
The suit charges that the very theme of the Storm Wranglers program made it a dangerous enterprise. The producer’s story board is intended to portray Williams and Yarnall as heroes, according to the suit. The logo for the program depicted Williamson and Yarnall roping a tornado. Neither of the men had any emergency training, the suit alleges.
“Unfortunately, Williamson and Yarnall, who were chicken farmers and cattle ranchers by trade, became the story, taking the life of Corbin Jaeger with them,” Ball said.
Jaeger had intended to attend college in Arizona with hopes of becoming a meteorologist, Ball said.
A spokeswoman for The Weather Channel said the company cannot comment on pending litigation. “We are saddened by the loss of Corbin Jaeger, Kelley Williamson, and Randy Yarnall,” The Weather Channel said in a statement. “They were beloved members of the weather community and our deepest sympathies go out to the families and loved ones of all involved.”
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