OKLAHOMA CITY, June 10 (UPI) -- A victim of recent tornadoes in Oklahoma says tornado tour companies are "disrespectful to people who have lost everything in tornadoes."
Extreme Tornado Tours, a company that takes customers on storm-chasing tours across Oklahoma and so-called tornado alley areas, charges people as much as $3,500 to get an up-close view of twisters, The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, reported Monday.
The company is owned by Reed Timmer, a celebrity storm chaser for KFOR-TV, Oklahoma City.
Kristen Perkins, an elementary schoolteacher from Moore, Okla., where 24 people were killed during a tornado on May 20, said she came across a picture from the company's Facebook page of a group of people posing in front of a tornado.
"The blatant insensitivity of it all made me sick," Perkins said. "It is just disrespectful to people who have lost everything in tornadoes. People lost lives, homes, businesses. How can you make that a spectator sport?"
National Weather Service meteorologist Ryan Barnes said tornado research is valuable and can only be done very close to a tornado. However, he said such research should only be done by professionals, the newspaper reported.
"Our mission is to protect life and property," Barnes said.
Meanwhile, Perkins said she understands the need and value of tornado research, but thinks it is unacceptable for people to profit from suffering.
"People get adrenaline rushes in different ways. Some people go rock climbing," Perkins said. "But when a community was just hit, have the sensitivity not to make it a business."