Texas train hits veteran parade truck, killing four

The BBC's Alistair Leithead says an investigation is already under way

A freight train has crashed into a parade float in Texas, killing four people and injuring 16 others.

The crash happened at a rail crossing in the city of Midland, as the flatbed truck was on its way to an event honouring wounded US veterans.

The crossing gate and lights were reportedly working and an investigation is under way. One eyewitness said the float became stuck at the crossing.

The veterans and relatives were heading to a banquet, which has been cancelled.

Those killed were Marine Chief Warrant Officer Gary Stouffer, 37, Army Sgt Maj Lawrence Boivin, 47, Army Sgt Joshua Michael, 34 and Army Sgt Maj William Lubbers, 43.

One veteran and three civilian spouses remained in hospital on Friday, with one spouse in critical condition.

Panic

Start Quote

People on the trailer saw the train coming and they were flying in every direction”

End Quote Patricia Howle Witness

According to the local officials, the float hit by the train was the second being pulled along the parade route. The first had already safely crossed the track.

Officials say the eastbound train was sounding its horn before it struck the float, with 26 people on board.

Eyewitnesses said some people jumped off the float as the locomotive approached.

Patricia Howle, who was waiting at a nearby traffic light, told KOSA-TV: "People on the trailer saw the train coming and they were flying in every direction.

"I covered my face. I didn't want to see."

Daniel Quinonez said the second float "could not go anywhere because of the other one being right in front of it".

"I just saw the people on the semi-truck's trailer panic, and many started to jump off the trailer," Mr Quinonez told the Associated Press news agency.

"But it was too late for many of them because the train impacted the trailer so fast," he added.

A family friend said the wife of Sgt Joshua Michael told him he had pushed her off the float when he saw the train coming.

"His first instinct was to get her out of harm's way," Cory Rogers, who was not at the parade, said.

Some of those who managed to jump clear of the wreck immediately rushed to help the injured.

"I've been through five combat tours, and this is worse than probably, getting blown up," Michael Morris told the Odessa-American. He said a good friend had died in the accident.

A spokesman for the Union Pacific railway company, Tom Lange, said a preliminary investigation indicated the crossing gate and lights were working at the time, though he said he did not know if the train crew had seen the float approaching.

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

National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson says his agency is investigating the crash.

Ten of the 16 injured people were later released from hospital.

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