Joel Taylor, a well-known storm chaser who appeared on the Discovery Channel TV Series, has died young at the age of 38, according to reports from heartbroken friends in the industry. Taylor died while on a cruise ship, The Blast reports.
According to The Blast, a celebrity news site, Taylor died while aboard the Royal Caribbean ship, Harmony of the Seas. The cruise ship, which left Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Saturday for a weeklong voyage, was docked in Puerto Rico at the time, The Blast reports.
His cause of death is still under investigation, and his family is traveling from Oklahoma to Florida.
“We can confirm that Joel Taylor has passed away while on a cruise,” a family spokesperson told The Blast.” The cause of the death has not yet been determined. We ask for your understanding during this difficult time and your respect for the family while they deal with the loss of their son.”
“RIP my best friend and storm chasing partner, Joel Taylor,” Taylor’s storm-chasing partner Reed Timmer, wrote on Twitter. “I am shocked and absolutely devastated by the loss of my incredible, caring friend. We chased so many intense storms, and I wish we could have just one more storm chase. I’ll miss you forever, Joel. We lost a legend.”
Other colleagues confirmed Taylor’s death, and fans flooded social media with tributes in memory of the Oklahoma-raised storm chaser whose passion was weather. He was remembered as a “storm-chasing icon,” and his untimely death left those who knew him and the show in shock. His death was not believed to be related to storm chasing.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Taylor Was ‘At A Very Happy Time in His Life’ & His Cause of Death Remains Unclear
On Facebook, Timmer indicated that Joel was at a good place in his life, writing, “…I can tell you that Joel was at a very happy time in his life, and we’ve been brainstorming non-stop this winter about chasing plans this spring. He has the biggest heart of anyone I know, and has always been there for me through thick and thin. I’ll miss you forever, Joel. My heart goes out to the Taylor family. We lost a legend.”
How did Taylor die? What was his cause of death? Whenever someone dies young and suddenly, that’s the obvious question. However, thus far, the circumstances and cause of Taylor’s reported death have not been released. On Facebook, Taylor gave no public hint that anything was wrong. Colleagues who were close to him either wrote on social media that they did not know how he died or stressed that people should focus on remembering his life.
TMZ alleged, per unnamed law enforcement sources, that “it appears the death could be an overdose and Joel Taylor was consuming controlled substances,” adding: “A passenger who interacted with Joel tells TMZ, Joel had consumed enough GHB on the dance floor Tuesday that he was rendered unconscious and taken off the dance floor by 2 people and back to his room.” The TMZ account is not confirmed.
Added TMZ, “A rep for the boat tells us Taylor was found unresponsive in his cabin Tuesday and law enforcement was alerted when the boat arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico.”
“The medical professionals are trying to determine the cause,” a post from a storm chasing group, Team Western OK Chaser, said. “It will most likely be quite a while before the medical professionals have those answers.” The circumstances of death were not revealed.
The post continued: “Since I posted this condolence last night Joel’s passing has been shared world wide. Media from the U.S. and U.K. have quoted this post and since that is happening I want to make the most accurate statement I can. Many people have asked how Joel passed away. For the sake of no false information and repeated reply’s to the question. This is my reply. There is no answer at this time. The medical professionals are trying to determine the cause.”
The group added: “It will most likely be quite a while before the medical professionals have those answers and when they do then it will be relayed to the family. I’d hope we would all just pray for them at this time because I know they have the same questions and are hurting deeply at his sudden passing. If you knew or know his parents and family you would understand that they are the kindest and sweetest people and are in great pain for the loss of their child and brother. Please lift them up in prayers and support.”
Taylor recently posted a video about having a great time in Atlanta on his birthday.
His last public post came on January 15 and was about the birth of a niece. “My first niece arrived this morning!” he wrote. One of his photos from 2017 indicated he may have been on a cruise at that time, as he posed with water behind him, and with one friend writing, “I recognize that lanyard! Have fun!!” and another asking him about his cabin. His cover photo on Facebook is of a storm.
2. Taylor Became Fascinated by the Weather Because He Grew Up ‘Near the Heart of Tornado Alley’
Joel Taylor appeared on Discovery’s show, Storm Chasers. “Growing up near the heart of tornado alley, Joel had a front-row seat to plenty of severe storms and tornadoes,” the show’s bio for him reads.
“Always fascinated by these phenomena, he attended the University of Oklahoma to study meteorology. There, he met someone who shared his passion for severe weather and storm chasing, Reed Timmer. The two have intercepted countless tornadoes, and with Joel’s keen knowledge of the back roads of the Great Plains, he has long been the trusted driver of Reed’s TVN team.”
Taylor wrote on Facebook, “Many of you may not know but I grew up a cowboy on a ranch in Western Oklahoma.”
3. Taylor Was Described as an ‘Inspiration’ & ‘Truly a Classy Guy’
The Facebook page Team Western OK Chaser reported on January 23, 2018 that Taylor had died, writing, “Our community of Elk City and the Storm Chasing community lost a great guy today. Joel Taylor was truly an inspiration to myself and many who knew him. He was one of the most level headed chasers on the roads and truly a classy guy outside of chasing.”
The site notes that Taylor “didn’t chase for the glory he chased because he had a true passion for storms. In the last few years he’d load up with his dad and go chase and not even take a camera. Our hearts are hurting for his mom Tracy and dad Jimmy along with his brother and sister and their children. Please know you are in our prayers. RIP Joel.”
Texas Storm Chasers also shared the news, writing, “Sad news tonight. Joel Taylor, featured in the Discovery TV series ‘Storm Chasers’, has passed away at the age of 38.”
Tributes flowed in for Taylor:
Other friends joined the Team Western OK Chase comment thread to say the report was true. “I can confirm it 100%. It is widely known in our community,” wrote one friend of Joel Taylor.
4. Taylor Was Remembered for His Friendly Personality & His Death Has Devastated Friends
Blake Brown, a video stringer for a media company, wrote on Facebook, “Today has been a rough day… Joel Taylor, a guy I have always looked up to growing up, passed away. He was a very respected chaser and one of the nicest guys out there. I’m still in shock from this devastating news. Sending my thoughts and prayers to his family.
Enjoy every single moment of every day. Tomorrow is never promised.”
As word spread quickly through the storm chasing community that Taylor had died, others expressed their pain.
Molly Houchins, of Molly’s Weather HQ, wrote on Facebook, “Devastating news out of the storm chasing community tonight. We have lost Joel Taylor… He was a great person, always chasing because it was his passion. Many of you have seen Joel chasing with legend Reed Timmer, Joel was usually the driver of the Dominator on Discovery Channel’s ‘Storm Chasers.’ Reed has confirmed this as true and it is a devastating loss to everyone. My thoughts and prayers go out to Joel’s families and closest friends. Rest in peace Joel… — feeling devastated.”
5. Fans Felt Like They Knew Taylor Personally After Watching His Storm Chasing Exploits
Fans who enjoyed watching Joel Taylor on Storm Chasers expressed great shock, with one writing, “NOOOO!!!! Reed and Joel were awesome on Storm Chasers!!! Felt like we knew them personally…. R.I.P. Joel ???” Fans remembered his friendliness.
Others praised him as an icon in the storm chasing world. “I’m literally in tears right now I spent so much time watching storm chasers and that helped feed my want to be a meteorologist I can’t believe Joel Taylor is gone. RIP to one of the best,” wrote one woman.
This post will be updated as more is learned about Joel Taylor’s death.