On Thursday, at a railroad crossing in Midland, Texas, a freight train hit a float carrying wounded veterans killing four persons and wounding seventeen. At least ten wounded persons are in critical condition.
The floats were part of Show of Support’s Hunt for Heroes parade. Just as the parade was crossing the tracks, the gates started to come down. While one of the floats was able to cross over safely, the other float, carrying wounded veterans, many in wheelchairs, was hit straight by the Union Pacific freight train.
According to Amarillo Globe News, Union Pacific spokesman Tom Lange said the crossing gate and lights were working though he was not sure whether the train crew saw the float. He said ten of the 17 wounded are in critical condition.
About two dozen veterans and their families were on the rear flatbed truck, which was hit by the train. To the end, the soldiers remained heroes. Army Sgt. Joshua Michael, 34, pushed his wife off in time before the freight train slammed into the truck. Michael died at the hospital though his wife survived without injury.
Michael’s mother-in-law, Hefley, told the Amarillo Global News about her daughter and now lost son-in-law, “She is not hurt at all … He was that kind of guy. He always had a smile on his face. He would do for others before he would do for himself.”
The Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta issued a statement saying he “was deeply saddened by news of the tragic accident involving veterans heroes and their spouses in Midland … His thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims, with those injured in this incident, and with the entire community.”