Tributes pour in for storm-chaser killed in crash

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by CASEY NORTON

WFAA

Posted on February 5, 2012 at 11:41 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 7 at 2:39 AM

Andy Gabrielson is being remembered as a father, a friend, and a man who took risks to save countless lives.

News 8 rode along with the storm-chaser on Friday night, unaware that this would be his last storm.

His final night.

Gabrielson was killed Saturday afternoon when his SUV was hit head-on by a wrong-way driver near Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The storm-chasing community remembers him as one of their own — and one of the best.

"I didn't drive from Minnesota to see rain showers," Gabrielson told News 8 on Friday. He chased tornadoes in 26 states.

His hunt took him to North Texas for what turned out to be a disappointing hail storm.

"Tornado threat definitely not what we thought it would be today," he said.

Gabrielson's shocking death knocked the wind out of storm-chasers across the country.

"He's one of those guys you hate to see leave. It's gut-wrenching," said News 8 storm-chaser Craig Curlee.

He remembers Gabrielson as a severe weather expert who had a knack for getting to the right spot for tornado video. Curlee also knows that Gabrielson's bigger goal was protecting innocent lives.

"He wil never be forgotten. He has totally raised the level of storm-chasing," Curlee said.

On Saturday, storm-chasers coordinated their GPS log-ins to spell out Gabrielson's initials on Internet maps, and Facebook pages were tagged with support for his family.

Severe weather season won't be the same for the chasers who knew him best, but they will continue to venture into the storms to honor his memory.

"It's kind of like racing," Gabrielson said in his final interview. "Once it's in your blood, it's something you love doing."

Storm-chasers are making bumper stickers for their vehicles. Proceeds will go to Gabrielson's family.

E-mail cnorton@wfaa.com

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