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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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June 3rd, 2013
06:57 PM ET

Friends remember storm chaser's dedication, passion

Storm chasers film life-or-death moments in the middle of a tornado, risking their lives to collect data and footage.

Three storm chasers followed tornadoes not so much for the thrill, but in the hope that their research might help people avoid the fate to which they succumbed last week. Veteran storm chaser Tim Samaras, 54; his chase partner of a decade, Carl Young, 45; and Samaras' son, Paul Samaras, 24, a photographer, died Friday in an EF-3 tornado in El Reno, Oklahoma. Crews hauled away their white truck Sunday. It had been crushed like a tin can, its metal frame violently twisted and its windows smashed.

Fellow storm chaser Lanny Dean was a close friend of Tim Samaras.

"I'm going to remember his dedication and his passion," said Dean, choking back tears. "But ultimately I will remember his caring attitude... He truly did care more about other people than himself, and that certainly showed anytime you spoke with him."

"In the off-season he enjoyed going to schools, he enjoyed talking to children, trying to educate them, trying to get them involved in science," said Ed Grubb, a storm tracker who has been part of Tim Samaras' crew since 2009. "He believed in integrating that scientific knowledge in the younger kids."

In an interview Samaras gave Friday before he was killed, he said he was collecting data and looking for a special type of storm - a supercell. Grubb said that research is extremely important.

"We can utilize the data collected and figure out why one particular supercell thunderstorm ... will produce a tornado and why one will not," said Grubb.

Dean had planned to discuss research with Samaras, also focused on supercells, specifically the acoustics - infrasonics - in and around tornadoes. They were supposed to talk after Friday's tornadoes.

"That caring attitude, and that awe aura about him, I'm going to miss dearly," said Dean.

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