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Wounded Times

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Town holds candlelight vigil after veterans killed by train

UPDATE on Investigation
Officials: Float crossed track after signals
By Juan Carlos Llorca
The Associated Press
Posted : Sunday Nov 18, 2012

MIDLAND, Texas — A parade float filled with wounded veterans that was struck by a freight train had crossed onto the railroad tracks after warning signals were going off, investigators said Saturday.

Four veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan were killed and 16 more people were injured when the train crashed into the flatbed truck in West Texas.

It was the second of two floats carrying veterans in Thursday’s parade in Midland. The first was exiting the tracks when the warning bells and signals were activated, 20 seconds before the accident, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The second float didn’t enter the tracks until several seconds after the warning system went off, the NTSB said. By that time, the guardrail was lowering.

“Once the crossing becomes active, people should stop,” lead investigator Robert Accetta with the NTSB said at a news conference Saturday afternoon.
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West Texas town begins recovery after train crash
By JUAN CARLOS LLORCA
Associated Press – 18 hrs ago

MIDLAND, Texas (AP) — Two days after a train suddenly plowed into a parade float, killing four war veterans, the city of Midland, investigators and the victims' families began what likely will be a long, painful recovery.

The truck that served as the parade float had been removed from the tracks and federal investigators were working to determine what exactly happened, including whether the parade had enough warning to clear the tracks. Investigators Saturday measured distances, photographed the site and tested equipment, trilling the warning bells periodically.

Residents in the town of nearly 114,000 that has long lived alongside a vibrant railroad industry planned a weekend candlelight vigil.

One question that remains is whether the parade had the proper permit. The parade has been an annual event in Midland for nine years, but City Manager Courtney Sharp declined to say whether the group, Show of Support/Hunt for Heroes, had the necessary paperwork to hold the event.

Railroads, though, are a vital part of Midland, a town that sits in the heart of Texas' oil rich Permian basin. Three or four tracks lie within city limits, and the site of the accident is just about 10 minutes from downtown, said Midland spokesman Ryan Stout.

That's considered when the city grants permits for parades and other events, Sharp said.

"We take all steps into consideration when we permit," he said. "I hate to go down that track until all of the investigation is over, but yes we do take that stuff into account."

The freight train careening down the track at 60 mph late Thursday slammed with a thunderous crack into the parade float carrying war veterans.
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Veterans killed by train made us pay attention

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