NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – Four months after three University of Oklahoma meteorology students died in a car accident while storm chasing along the Oklahoma-Kansas border, one of their families is honoring his memory by establishing a foundation and legacy in his name.
“I still feel like it’s not real, like it didn’t happen,” said his mom Kate. “But we wake up every morning and we get a reminder, ‘Oh, yes, it did happen’.”
Nicholas K. Nair, 20, of Denton, Texas, died, along with Gavin A. Short, 19, of Grayslake, Ill., and Drake H. Brooks, 22, of Evansville, Ind., when the vehicle they were riding in was struck by a semi-truck returning home from following the severe weather.
“We knew we’d have to save for the college fund, but we didn’t expect at the age of 20, we [would] be, you know, finding ways to pay for the funeral,” said KG Nair, Nic’s dad.
According to Oklahoma Highway Patrol officials at the time of the accident, the vehicle hydroplaned, lost control and went off the right side of the road.
The vehicle reentered the road to the left and became disabled, blocking the outside lane, Oklahoma Highway Patrol officials said.
Speaking to KFOR Tuesday near the four-month anniversary of his death and the day after his 21st birthday, his family said the young man – who was known for his bright smile and contagious personality – positively impacted everyone he came in contact with.
“He must have been awake 24 hours a day to get through everybody and everything that he was involved with,” his Aunt Nic chuckled.
“All it was with him was love,” his mom Kate added.
“Now we’re living through what Nic would want us to do.”
“Energetic, amazing, strong,” said his dad, trailing off.
“Four months ago we lost our son, a brother and a friend to many who knew him,” he continued.
“As strong as we are as a family, his twin brother Krishna never wanted his brother to be forgotten, so we want to dedicate our lives into building a Legacy for our son. It is necessary to follow your dreams just like he did.”
Starting with the family’s personal savings, the Nicholas Nair Foundation will honor three meteorology student scholarships at The University of Oklahoma and three student scholarships at Hebron High School, where he also graduated.
The family said the foundation will aim to offer grants and scholarship to students.
“Meteorology literally linked to his passion [from] when he was a little kid,” said his dad. “He [had] a telescope and he always took pictures of clouds when he was little.”
“Our aim in life now [is helping others],” his dad added, saying the primary intent for the scholarship and foundation is to help other kids going to college, to live their passion and fulfill their dreams, the same way Nic did.
“This is what gives us strength, building this foundation to honor Nic,” his mother added, while saying the family has been overhwhelmed by the love and support it has received by the OU community.
“[OU] is our second home, and [now] we’re building relationships with friends and other families that knew him,” she said.
“We’re not going to just shut down, [we’ve] got to keep going. Life is short and you have to live at large.”
“Nic taught me confidence,” said his brother Keane. “He was very outgoing. He didn’t care what anybody thought about him [and] he was always just trying to be himself,” he added.
“And that’s what I really learned from him during these moments, that no matter what’s going on, no matter what’s happening in my life, that I just need to do what I enjoy [and] love people.”
“I’m only a sophomore in high school, but I’m praying that I get to I become an OU student,” said his brother Keane. “I don’t know what for, but I just want to follow those steps and just be at the campus,” he added.
“If this world is magical and if this world is with us, and if this world can feel and understand the pain the pain that we are going through, they will come up front and help us [continue fundraising],” said KG.
“We don’t want to stop. This is just the beginning of our dream.”