Tragedy in Midland, Texas (Updates)

UPDATE V:

“Two veterans who lost their lives in a tragic train accident in Texas have been hailed as heroes after they pushed their wives to safety just moments before they were hit,” according to the Huffington Post.

Read how combat and survival instincts of many of the veterans kicked in as they pushed others off the trailer, jumped themselves off and tended to the wounded, here.

UPDATE IV:

Sunday’s New York Times has additional details on the train tragedy.

Federal investigators say that the crossing’s warning system came on 20 seconds before the collision, as required under federal railroad regulations, and that the vehicle carrying 12 veterans, 12 spouses and two escorts tried to cross the tracks seconds after the railroad crossing’s bells-and-lights warning system was activated. “Eight seconds later, [National Transportation Safety Board member] Mr. Rosekind said, the truck’s front crossed the first of the track’s two rails as the arm guards began slowly coming down and the crossing lights flashed and bells were sounded,” according to the Times.

The Times adds:

The crash killed four Army and Marine veterans who were all wounded in action while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Sixteen other veterans and civilians were injured, though only five people remain hospitalized. Only one of the injured, a veteran’s spouse, is in critical condition.

According to the Times, the train was traveling 62 miles per hour at the time of the accident. Union Pacific had changed the speed limit for trains in Midland to 70 m.p.h. from 40 m.p.h. in 2006 — changes that were approved by federal railroad officials.

There are some questions about when the train crew sounded the horn and when the train’s emergency braking was applied.

Read more here.

UPDATE III:

Statement by Pentagon Press Secretary George Little on the Train Crash in Midland

Secretary Panetta was deeply saddened by news of the tragic accident involving veterans heroes and their spouses in Midland, Texas, which occurred as this community was coming together to honor them. His thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims, with those injured in this incident, and with the entire community.

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Update II:

The parade in Midland was organized and led by a local group called “Show of Support.”

The purpose of Show of Support is to demonstrate public support for the men and women of our military by providing outdoor opportunities to those injured in service to our country.

After the parade, the Group had planned a banquet to honor Service men and women for their service to our country. Following the banquet these heroes were to participate in an all expense paid whitetail deer hunt. According to Show of Support, “this is our way of saying “THANKS” West Texas style!

Men and women from any branch of service who were injured and were discharged or were to be discharged prior the scheduled hunt, were eligible for consideration to participate in the outdoor adventures that the Group offers.

NewsWest 9 reported yesterday, before the tragedy:

25 wounded soldiers were given a big southern welcome on Wednesday afternoon at the Midland International Airport.

The group of 25 was brought in for a week full of events to show them gratitude for their service.

All of their adventures will be filmed and aired on NewsWest 9.

If you’d like to show your support for the men and women, a parade will start on Thursday at the Doubletree Hilton Plaza at 4 p.m. and will head down to Garfield Street.

Later, a Show of Support banquet will be held at the Horseshoe Arena.

For more information about “Show of Support,” the heroes that were to be honored and to donate please go to the Show of Support web site.

Our thoughts and prayers are with these heroes and their families.

Image of the planned banquet from “Show of Support”

(Prior Update at bottom)

Here in Texas, we woke up this morning to the news of a horrible tragedy involving a veteran’s parade.

As more details become available, this post will be updated.

But for now, these are the sad details from the Austin American-Statesman:

Officials say six people remain hospitalized in West Texas after a freight train hit a float in a veterans’ parade, killing 4 people and injuring 16.

Midland Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Marcy Madrid says four people are in stable condition and one is critical Friday. Madrid says a sixth patient was transferred Thursday to University Medical Center in Lubbock. Madrid had no details on that woman’s condition.

Hospital authorities initially said 17 people required treatment following the Thursday afternoon accident in Midland. Madrid on Friday corrected the figure to 16, saying a person seeking treatment at the hospital who was not in the parade float wreck wrongly was included in the accident total.

Investigators are working to determine the cause of the deadly accident.

UPDATE:

This is a Press Release from the City of Midland:

On November 15th, 2012, at approximately 4:36 p.m., the Midland Police Department, along with EMS were dispatched involving a train collision.

The preliminary investigation shows that the Hunt For Heroes parade was traveling westbound on Wall Street when it tuned south on Garfield Street crossing the train tracks. The last two floats in the parade were carrying the heroes and their spouses. The first flatbed crossed the train tracks completely; the second did not make it across before being struck by the train. The Union Pacific Train was traveling eastbound when it struck the float.

Some of those who were riding on the second trailer attempted to evacuate before the train collision. There were 26 people on the flatbed when it was struck by the train. They included 12 heroes, 12 spouses, and two escorts.

Currently there are four fatalities, two at the scene and two died at Midland Memorial Hospital. The injured were transported to Midland Memorial Hospital. As of 9:30 p.m., 10 victims have been treated and released, five remain at the hospital (four in stable, one in critical), and one has been airlifted to University Medical Center in Lubbock.

The incident is currently under investigation. Investigators are attempting to notify the next of kin. More information will be distributed as updates are available.

Union Pacific tells NewsWest 9 that the crossing gate and the lights were working at the time. The train did sound its horn before hitting the float. There were only two conductors on board the train, and they are not injured. However, they will be going to counseling due to the traumatic nature of the incident.

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CODA: Dr. E alerted me to this tragedy.

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

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5 Comments

  1. Such a heart wrenching tragedy…my heart and prayers go out to all that are hurting and lost…May there be comfort and strength for all of the Vets and Midland…

    I am thinking this is where Steve K is from also?

  2. Is there a reason anyone would cross a railroad track if there is an oncoming train? I have never understood this. How terrible for everyone!

  3. So so sad. It is beyond words.

  4. Thank you Dorian. I appreciate the time you put to this to speak about this tragedy and to give the updates and over view. May all be comforted in real ways. Thank you.

  5. This is one of the saddest stories to come out of this country in years. What a horribly idiotic tragedy.

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