The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

November 16, 2012

Four killed, 17 injured in Texas when train slams into military veterans parade float

LEWISBURG —

MIDLAND, Texas -  Federal officials are heading to West Texas to join investigators looking into why a freight train slammed into a parade float carrying wounded veterans, killing four people and injuring 17 others.

Witnesses described a harrowing scene Thursday afternoon as the Union Pacific locomotive bore down on the decorated flatbed truck as it tried to clear the rail crossing on its way to an honorary banquet.

The train was sounding its horn and people on the flatbed truck — mostly wounded veterans and their spouses — were scrambling to jump off before the collision around 4:40 p.m. in Midland, according to witnesses and Union Pacific spokesman Tom Lange.

A preliminary investigation indicates the crossing gate and lights were working, Lange said, though he didn't know if the train crew saw the float approaching.

Two people died at the scene, while two others died at Midland Memorial Hospital, City of Midland spokesman Ryan Stout said. Six people remained hospitalized Thursday night, including at least one in critical condition; the other 11 people injured have been treated and released, hospital officials said.

About two dozen veterans and their spouses had been sitting in chairs on the float, set up on the back of a flatbed tractor-trailer decorated with American flags and signs identifying each veteran. Many seemed to panic as the locomotive's horn sounded, said Patricia Howle, who was waiting in her car at a nearby traffic light as the train approached.

"I was on the phone, and I just started screaming," she told The Associated Press late Thursday night. "The truck was on the other side of the train, but I did see the panic on the faces of the people and saw some of them jump off."

The float was among two flatbed tractor-trailers carrying veterans and their spouses. Police said 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 honked its horn, but the 18-wheeler could not go anywhere because of the other one being right in front of it," said Daniel Quinonez, who was in traffic that had been stopped by sheriff's deputies to allow the parade to pass.

"It was a horrible accident to watch happen right in front of me. I just saw the people on the semi-truck's trailer panic, and many started to jump off the trailer. But it was too late for many of them because the train impacted the trailer so fast," he told the AP.

Several police vehicles remained at the crash scene late Thursday night. Flood lights illuminated the wreck as investigators in reflective vests and hard hats carefully took measurements of the site, which was cordoned off by yellow police tape.

The parade had been scheduled to end at a "Hunt for Heroes" banquet honoring the veterans. The wounded service members were then going to be treated to a deer-hunting trip this weekend. The events were canceled.

The events were organized by Show Of Support, a local veterans group. Its president, Terry Johnson, did not immediately return an email for comment and his phone number was unlisted; the phone rang unanswered at the group's offices.

Stout, also the police department's spokesman, said he had no information about the individuals who died or the driver of the truck.

Lange said Union Pacific is offering help to the community and victims' families, as well as peer-to-peer counseling for the train crew, who did not sustain any injuries.

"There is going to be a very thorough investigation," Lange said. "It's obviously a very tragic incident."

The National Transportation Safety Board also is investigating, NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson said.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta "was deeply saddened by news of the tragic accident involving veterans heroes and their spouses in Midland," Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement. "His thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims, with those injured in this incident, and with the entire community."

Midland is about 320 miles west of Dallas.

 

1
Text Only
News
  • 28-mile cross walk steps off in Northumberland

    SUNBURY — Two “cross walks” this morning, including a 28-mile trek from Northumberland to Beaver Springs, are among the highlights of Easter activities and services in the Valley.

    April 18, 2014

  • rsstrike18a.jpg Picketing begins at 4 Danville schools

    [LAST UPDATED: 2:38 A.M., 4/18/14]

    DANVILLE — It started like any other school day during the year, with teachers up early and arriving at school at 7:30 in the morning.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Line Mountain board, teachers to talk Tuesday

    MANDATA — Line Mountain school board President Troy Laudenslager is far more optimistic this week than he has been as the board and the Line Mountain Education Association head into their first contract negotiation session in three months.

    April 18, 2014

  • Good Morning Central Susquehanna Valley

    Today is Good Friday, April 18, the 108th day of 2014. There are 257 days left in the year. On April 18, 1934, the first laundromat (called a “Washateria”) was opened by John F. Cantrell in Fort Worth, Texas; four electric washing machines were rented to members of the public on an hourly basis.

    April 18, 2014

  • Injured bicyclist can't believe car didn't stop

    SUNBURY — Brandon Reigle has one question for the driver and passengers who left him in the middle of the road after hitting the bicyclist with a car Wednesday: Why?

    April 17, 2014

  • Petitions target 'toxic few' on Midd-West board

    MIDDLEBURG — More than 400 names have been gathered on two petitions to remove a pair of Midd-West school directors after some members of the public claimed the district has been in disarray for quite some time.

    April 17, 2014

  • crash18.jpg Snyder County collision injures driver, kills two horses

    PORT TREVORTON — A car struck two horses on a rural road in Snyder County Thursday afternoon, injuring the driver and resulting in the death of the horses.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Strike17.jpg Danville teachers hit picket lines

    DANVILLE - It started like any other school day during the year, with teachers up early and arriving at school at 7:30 in the morning.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Snook suspension now a mystery

    MIDDLEBURG — Acting Midd-West Superintendent Daphne Snook is confused about what the school board is alleging she did that led to her suspension without pay, saying she hasn’t received anything in writing. “Nothing I have been told by the board in any way makes me believe that I violated district policy or the law,” Snook said by email Wednesday.

    April 17, 2014

  • Danville teacher strike starts today

    DANVILLE — Nearly four hours of negotiations could not prevent the first teacher strike at Danville in decades.

    April 17, 2014

The Daily Marquee
Poll

Are you among those who will be completing and mailing your tax forms today?

Yes
No - Already Filed
     View Results
Photo Galleries
The Valley

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.