Gavin A. Short, 19, passed away on Friday, April 29, 2022. He was born on July 2, 2002, in Libertyville, IL to Allan and Beth (née Schrank) Short of Grayslake, IL.
Gavin lived so much in his 19 years. He traveled to 46 states, often plotting and planning family road trips himself. His true calling was the field of meteorology, also known as “sky math”. He had a passion for weather, often providing forecast reports to his family, friends, and classmates.
He attended Woodland School District 50 and graduated from Grayslake Central High School. He was an excellent student who had a special gift for mathematics. Gavin loved learning and shared his knowledge and abilities in many subjects with others. He participated in the Academic Team, Math Team, Symphonic Band, and was a member of the National Honor Society.
Gavin was a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout; he earned his Eagle Scout rank in 2020. For his service project, he revitalized a nature trail and created a patio space as well as a Little Free Library in the Heather Ridge subdivision of Gurnee, IL.
Gavin was a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma, majoring in meteorology and minoring in geographic information systems, mathematics, and Spanish. He was doing undergraduate research on tropical cyclones with CIWRO within the National Weather Center. At OU, Gavin found his second family amongst his meteorology classmates- chasing storms and making predictions in the Oklahoma Weather Lab (OWL). Gavin assisted his classmates with math anytime they needed it. He was recently elected Treasurer of the OU SCAN organization. His ultimate goal was to advance the field of weather forecasting and severe storm prediction in order to save lives.
Gavin has been described by his friends as kind, brilliant, ambitious, helpful, funny, and passionate. His bright smile, silly laugh, and kind soul touched thousands of people in his young life. His siblings have been inspired by these qualities and his parents are incredibly proud of the young man he became. The deep grief felt by his family is shared by all that knew and loved him.
He is preceded in death by his grandfather Mike Schrank; and great-grandmother, Viola Schrank.
Gavin is survived by his parents Allan and Beth (née Schrank) Short; siblings, Evan and Devin Short; grandparents, Charles and Charlotte Short; grandmother, Joan Schrank; uncles, Charlie Short, Mark Short, Joe Schrank, and David (Karen) Schrank; aunts, Katie Schrank and Meg (Mike) Severa; cousins, Alex Short, Andrew (Maria) Salvino, Christian (Alicia) and Emma Schrank, Mandy (Justin), Ariyah, Cash, and Carter Lorenz; great aunts, Kathleen Schrank and Bernadette Kliora; and great-great aunt, Marilyn Rygiel. He also leaves behind his extensive Scouting community, the Met Crew Chasers, his University of Oklahoma family, and countless others who love him.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you support his love of Scouting by donating to Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan Scout Reservation at www.neic.org/gavin or help fund meteorology scholarships at the University of Oklahoma. Visit meteorology.ou.edu/giving/ or mail donations payable to The University of Oklahoma, addressed to: School of Meteorology, 120 David L Boren Blvd, Suite 5900, Norman, OK 73072.
My son Gavin was lost to his family and friends the night of April 29th, 2022. He and his friends Nic Nair and Drake Brooks were out storm chasing a severe weather event which occurred in Kansas that day. All three were meteorology students at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. The boys were successful in safely intercepting multiple severe storms as well as at least one tornado that day. We would find out later that it was Drake’s first successful chase after several previous unsuccessful attempts…..
This is one of the final photos Gavin took:
Because they had chased so deeply into Kansas that day, almost as far North as Topeka, the boys had a long drive to get back to campus. Gavin and his group of friends were very safety conscious when going chasing, at least when it came to intercept distance, storm direction, and strictly never chasing after dark.
It took my child to go off to college for him to give me a GPS tracker for him. We were never the kind of parents that needed to know where our kids are every moment of their day, but when it came to chasing, Gavin and his friends all used Life360 to keep tabs on each other’s location. On one of his visits back home, he insisted that my wife and I put the app on our phones so we could see where he was when out chasing. Life360 also records other information and telemetry, which would prove to be somewhat shocking for us….
Earlier that day and even on their return trip, Nic, the friend who was driving that day, hit speeds in excess of 90MPH. In the afternoon when they were racing to Kansas to catch the weather, they hit speeds over 100MPH. We know this because Gavin took screenshots of Life360 on his phone at a few points during the day which showed their speed. We also know this because Life360 gives access to historical data for a rolling window which I believe is 30 days. What this meant to us is after becoming a premium subscriber in the days after their passing, we found out more information than we probably would care to as parents whose child and friends perished in a horrific auto accident.
You see, around 11:30PM that night, with Nic behind the wheel, they were going over 85MPH when their VW Tiguan encountered a pocket of heavy rain near Tonkawa, Oklahoma. Nic lost control of the vehicle and their car crashed into the guard rail, became disabled, and came to rest partly blocking the left lane, and almost entirely blocking the right lane. Nearly a year later, we still do not know how much time elapsed between this accident and the accident that would ultimately take their lives. Within a minute or two of the initial accident, a semi operated by Hirshbach Trucking from Topeka headed to Texas crashed into the boys’ VW. All three were gone in an instant. It would take longer for the rescue squad to cut Nic’s car apart and extricate their bodies than it took Hirshbach to send a replacement tractor to finish delivering the cargo of beef products to Texas. The driver of the semi basically walked away unharmed, although he was transported to a local hospital for some minor injuries.
Kids – you are not invincible. Do not drive like idiots, and especially be careful and slow the F down whether you’re on unfamiliar roads at night and it’s bad weather, or you’re cruising around your town.
Parents – your kids drive like maniacs, even when they say they don’t. You did. I did too. They did. The difference is they weren’t so lucky. Believe me when I say, you don’t want to be woken up by your local police who have been tasked to deliver some devastating news. You don’t want to be haunted with images like this for the rest of your life:
Gavin and Drake were passengers. I don’t blame the truck or the driver. I don’t blame the weather. The only reason our sons are no longer with us or better yet in class with their friends, is of the abilities and skill, or lack thereof, of the driver of the car they were in.
#RIPOU3 #SpreadKindnessForGavin #DoGoodDeedsForDrake