Midland, TX, United States (4E) – Four military veterans died and 16 people were injured Thursday after a freight train slammed into a parade float filled with participants of a Texas event honoring U.S. troops.
According to a police spokesman, 37-year-old Gary Stouffer and 47-year-old Lawrence Boivin were declared dead at the scene while another two, 34-year-old Joshua Michael and 43-year-old Williams Lubbers died later at a nearby hospital.
Officials confirmed that the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident that happened around 4:30 p.m. at a railroad crossing along Garfield Street and Industrial Avenue in Midland.
The first trailer in the “Hunt for Heroes” event parade passed the crossing, but the second trailer, with 26 people, was hit by an eastbound train.
Police said some people in the truck were able to jump off safely.
Marcy Madrid, a hospital spokeswoman, said four people were admitted at Midland Memorial Hospital, one in critical condition and three were in stable condition.
Another person in serious condition was taken to a Lubbock hospital on Thursday night while 11 others have been released.
The group Show of Support said the event, which also include a banquet and an “all expense paid whitetail deer hunt,” were created to honor members of all branches of the U.S. military.
Tom Lange, a spokesman for the Union Pacific Railroad, said the Union Pacific freight train, with more than 80 rail cars transporting double-stacked containers, was heading east toward Shreveport, Louisiana.
Initial investigation by the company revealed that the lights and gates at the crossing were functioning properly at the time of the crash and that the train crew had properly sounded the locomotive horn.
Lange added Union Pacific is investigating why the trailer was in the crossing and plans to review the video from a camera in the locomotive’s cab.
The train employee was not injured in the crash.
Investigators from the NTSB arrived on the site Thursday night and the rest of the team will follow on Friday, said Peter Knudson, a board spokesman.
NTSB has not confirmed whether the crossing gates and signals were working when the accident happened.