Just days after the national Veterans Day holiday, tragedy struck a group of wounded military veterans when a parade float carrying them to a “Hunt for Heroes” event was struck by a train in Midland, Texas — around 340 miles west of Dallas.
The Huffington Post reports the heroes were to be feted at a banquet, followed by a deer hunting weekend. Both events have been canceled.
Two flatbed trucks decorated with flags and banners were carrying the veterans and their spouses, seated in chairs. The first truck safely crossed the tracks before the second truck was struck.
A spokesman for the city of Midland tells CBS Dallas Sgt. Maj. Gary Stouffer (37) Sgt. Maj. Lawrence Boivin (47) were pronounced dead at the scene. Army Sgt. Joshua Michael (34) Army Sgt. Maj. William Lubbers (43) died at Midland Memorial Hospital. Seventeen more victims are injured, seven listed in critical condition.
Witnesses report seeing some people evacuate the makeshit float as the train approached. Patricia Howle heard the locomotive’s horn sound. She tells 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.”
The train operator, Union Pacific, and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the tragic accident.