Reality shows have been around since the early days of television. From Candid Camera to Big Brother, the popularity of the genre has revealed the voyeuristic tendencies of television viewers.
The Weather Channel’s Storm Wranglers show brings their watchers up close and personal in their never-ending chase for tornados. While most people operating a motor vehicle would find ways to avoid the charging funnel cloud, hosts of the program were determined to chase the twister and live stream every mile of their pursuit.
Kelley Williamson and Randy Yarnall were the behind-the-wheel emcees of the popular reality television show. Each episode saw them in hot pursuit of twisters, literally putting their own lives in danger. However, the reality of the action depicted on screen turned into a real-life tragedy when a collision ended not only their lives, but also the life of someone who was driving away, not towards the funnel cloud.
The mother of 25-year-old Corbin Lee Jaeger, a storm spotter for the National Weather Service, is suing The Weather Channel for the wrongful death of her son. Her lawsuit claims that the SUV driven by the “Wranglers” ignored a stop sign and collided with Jaeger’s car at 70 miles per hour. Karen Di Piazza is asking for $125 million dollars in damages from the network.
The Weather Channel had received previous warnings about the dangerous conditions created by the combination of inclimate weather and the reckless driving maneuvers employed by the hosts. The “entertainment” entered into evidence was a video documenting Williamson and Yarnall running three stop signs to secure footage of a tornado.
Jaeger crashed into them when they ignored the fourth.