HARRIMAN (WATE) – From a very young age, ten-year-old Jake Wray has only wanted to do one thing: chase tornadoes.
On Friday three of his heroes, Tim Samaras, his son Paul and their colleague Carl Young were killed while tracking and researching the powerful EF-3 tornado in El Reno.
They are believed to be the first storm researchers killed while chasing tornadoes and their death is being felt by the weather community.
Jake could be one of the youngest storm spotters in our area. His love of all things weather caught the eye of veteran storm chaser Tim Samaras. Samaras spoke with Jake on the phone and sent him an autographed DVD.
It's a DVD Jake has watched more than 100 times.
"Look at that, look at that, wow, that's going to be dangerous," Jake said, pointing out a moment when Samaras and his team are chasing a particularly dangerous tornado.
From an early age Jake has been obsessed with all things weather.
"Instead of watching Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers, he was watching Good Morning America and the Weather Channel," explained Jake's dad, Nathan Wray.
Five years ago, Jake was diagnosed with autism and his parents believe his love of weather helps with his disease.
"Some kids with autism deal with things in different ways," Nathan said. "Some have service dogs that can help calm them, Jake has weather."
You can see the passion and focus in Jake's eyes as he watches the DVD Samaras sent him.
"When he's upset or he's showing anxiety, we can turn the weather on and it calms him," his dad said.
Watching each of the dangerous chases doesn't faze him, just the excitement of watching his heroes on the screen.
"I want to be a storm chaser, then a meteorologist," Jake said.
For Jake, speaking on the phone with Tim was a dream come true.
"As parents, you want your kids to make the basketball team or the football team or the dance team, so for us this was like he made the storm team," his dad said with a proud smile.
Already Jake plays his part, mapping out the radar on his various devices and posting to his Facebook page. One day, he hopes to get out on the road and see the real thing.
"Every day we're going to try to get tornadoes," Jake said talking about his future plans as a storm chaser.
It's a future that makes mom and dad a little nervous.
"Definitely a little nervous, but we want to support him in whatever he wants to do," his dad said.
But Jake knows the dangers and although saddened by the death of his heroes, he knows they died doing what they loved.
"Just this morning he said I'm not sad anymore," his dad said. "I said why? He said because Tim, Carl and Paul get to chase in heaven now."
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