Today, we lost a friend, a father, a husband… one of the greatest chasers, Andy Gabrielson. Andy was killed in a head-on accident near Tulsa, Oklahoma today (2/4/2012) heading home from a storm chase in Texas just the day before. Erik and I had the privilege to know Andy. Reading all the other posts and blogs, you could tell one thing, the storm chaser community took a large hit. One of the most kind, caring people in the community had been taken from us.
On Friday, the first Chase of my season, a minimal … okay it wasn’t even minimal.. it was just a lets go see a storm chase. Andy was ther with the TVN crew, making everyone laugh as always. We joked about November 7th, about how he thought Dick McGowan stole his wallet.
I had to stop writing last night as the words were still not coming to me of what to say. This morning the words are pouring into my mind of what to say. The next few paragraphs will be just free writing. Whatever comes to my mind is what will be portreyed through my fingers and typed for the public to read.
Andy Gabrielson. One of the most amazing chasers in the world. One of the most dedicated. It doesn’t matter if he had to travel all day and night, for the most minimal of set ups.. he would be there. His passion drove him. That’s why he was the best. It didn’t matter who told him it was a bad day to chase, or who he had to drag out, he was going to be there no matter what, chasing. Never stop chasing. Reed’s line has echo’d in my mind since I heard the news. I really don’t know why. Maybe because even in this time of tragedy Andy would still want us to chase… hell, I bet if there was even a 2% chance of tornado’s on his funeral day, and we were at his funeral he would be pissed at us for not chasing.
What is equally astounding is the people in the chaser community. It doesn’t matter if you disliked a person, or had competition against one another, all of that was left at the proverbial door. Everyone came together, to mourn and to comfort. To laugh and to cry. Everyone was there for everyone. It’s truly amazing what the chaser community is capable of. I find myself blessed to know and have met the people that I do know because of this… hobby.. passion.. profession..
The Weather Channel has been doing tributes all morning, talking to different chasers. One of them is our close buddy Mike Scantlin. I think I’ll end this post on a phrase he just said to me over facebook chat.
He was a f***ing Champion.