Thursday, November 15, 2012

At Least Four Killed as Freight Train Slams Into West Texas Veteran's Parade Float

James Durbin- My West Texas

Four people were killed and at least another 17 people were killed in Midland, TX when a parade float was struck by a freight train on Thursday afternoon.
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.
The float was one of two on flatbed trailers carrying wounded and disabled veterans and their families while on their way to an honorary banquet when the disaster struck. According to eyewitnesses, the truck pulling the float was unable to move due to the float immediately in front of it being stopped.

The parade was slated to end at a 'Hunt for Heroes' banquet followed by a deer hunting trip this upcoming weekend. in light of Thursday afternoon's tragedy, both events have been cancelled. Lt Col Tom DiTomasso, a commander during the Battle of Mogadishu, was reportedly scheduled to as the banquet's keynote speaker.

Officials from the Midland Police Department, Midland County Sheriff's Office, Texas Department of Public Safety and National Transportation Safety Board remained at the crash site well into the evening, examining the wreckage. Officials have yet to release the names of the dead, pending notification of family members.

Shortly after word of the fatal collision broke, hundreds of local residents showed up at a local blood bank volunteering to donate blood. An official with United Blood Services said that donations from Midlanders would be needed over the next few days to help replenish stocks that were used to help vitims of the collision.

The Show of Support parade, banquet and weekend hunt was started in 2004 by Midland native Terry Johnson.

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