Four people are dead and 16 others were injured after a freight train crashed into a parade float carrying wounded veterans on Thursday in Midland, Texas.
The train crash occurred during the “Hunt for Heroes” parade in Midland. The parade kicks off a week to honor wounded veterans.
Two floats were set up on the back of a flatbed tractor-trailer, each decorated with American flags and signs identifying each veteran, who were sitting in chairs with their spouses.
The floats tried to get through a West Texas railroad crossing on its way to an honorary banquet. The first truck safely crossed the railroad tracks, but the second truck’s trailer was still on the crossing as the train approached.
The train sounded its horn and people were jumping off the float before it slammed into the decorated flatbed truck at around 4:40 p.m.
Two people died at the scene. They were identified as Army SGM Gary Stouffer, 37, and Army SGM Lawrence Boivin, 47. Two others who were transported and later died at Midland Memorial Hospital were identified as Army SGT Joshua Michael, 34, and Army SGM William Lubbers, 43.
As of 7:00am Friday, five victims remain at the hospital, four in stable condition and one in critical condition, at University Medical Center in Lubbock. The other 11 people injured have been treated and released, hospital officials said.
According to Union Pacific spokesman Tom Lange, preliminary reports indicate the crossing gate and lights were working though he didn’t know if the train crew saw the float approaching.
The parade had been scheduled to end at a banquet honoring the veterans. The wounded service members were then going to be treated to a deer-hunting trip this weekend. The events were cancelled.
The events were organized by Show Of Support, a local veterans group. Its president, Terry Johnson, could not be reached for comment.
Union Pacific is offering help to the community and victims’ families, as well as peer-to-peer counselling for the train crew, who did not sustain any injuries.
The National Transportation Safety Board is working in coordination with other agencies on the investigation.