KAY COUNTY, Okla. – A Grayslake man was among three students killed Friday in a crash with a semi-truck in Oklahoma amid severe weather conditions.
Gavin A. Short, 19, of Grayslake, Nicholas K. Nair, 20, of Denton, Texas, and Drake H. Brooks, 22, of Evansville, Ind., all died at the scene of the crash on Interstate 35 south near mile marker 214 in Tonkawa, Oklahoma, according to state Highway Patrol officials.
All three were meteorology students at the University of Oklahoma.
Fellow OU meteorology student Brayden Siau said the trio was thrilled to be chasing storms like the one that occurred Friday in Kansas.
“They had a great day, they were calling their parents after and were telling them about how excited they were,” Siau said. “Drake actually saw his first tornado.”
After the adventure, the three were driving back to Oklahoma late Friday night when Highway Patrol says their car hydroplaned on a wet I-35 and lost control.
“A semi came along in the rain and struck them broadside,” Highway Patrol Lt. Phillip Ludwyck said. “It’s just heartbreaking to think we lost three very talented young men in just a tragic, tragic accident.”
In Norman, Oklahoma, the National Weather Service dedicated its evening weather balloon release to the friends – the wind carrying their names toward the clouds they had a passion for studying.
“Absolutely amazing people,” Siau said. “I want people to remember them. They will be greatly missed.”
Short was a graduate of Grayslake Central High School. In a statement to WGN News, Superintendent Dr. Mikkel Storaasli says the school community is mourning the loss of an alum:
“On behalf of District 127, we extend our deepest sympathies to the Short family. Gavin Short was a 2020 Grayslake Central graduate and was a beloved son, brother, friend, and student. The District 127 staff and Board of Education send our deepest condolences to his family. This loss weighs heavy on all our hearts and our thoughts will remain with the Short family during this difficult time.”