“Doing 90+mph”: Alarming text sent before deadly storm chaser crash

A mother is suing The Weather Channel for $125 million over the death of her son, who died in a crash involving storm chasers employed by the cable network. The lawsuit, citing text messages, alleges that at least one Weather Channel employee was known to have “dangerous” driving habits before the fatal crash.

The mother, Karen Di Piazza, alleges Kelley Williamson and Randall Yarnall, who had a show called “Storm Wranglers,” ran a stop sign on a county road as they were chasing a tornado in Texas two years ago. The lawsuit alleges the duo crashed into a vehicle driven by Di Piazza’s son, 25-year-old Corbin Lee Jaeger.

The suit claims The Weather Channel “was aware the pair drove dangerously and the risk they posed to others,” and was “warned by third parties that their ‘STORM WRANGLERS’ engaged in reckless driving before this tragedy.” It says another storm chaser who knew Williamson and Yarnall exchanged text messages with a show producer “concerning the dangerous nature of the driving habits” of the pair before the crash.

In one message, the unnamed storm chaser said Williamson was “doing 90+mph” to get to a location. “We are just hoping he doesn’t get hurt or hurt anyone else,” the chaser wrote 24 days before the accident, according to the lawsuit.

It also alleges Williamson and Yarnall showed “time and time again their disregard of basic traffic safety laws” in videos posted on Williamson’s YouTube channel that “showcase entire days of storm chasing.”

In a statement, The Weather Channel said it can’t comment on pending litigation.

In 2017, the cable network said, “We are saddened by this loss and our deepest sympathies go out to the families and loved ones of all involved,” CBS Denver reported at the time.

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