Thankfully, we do not hear about vehicular accidents involving a freight train too frequently, but when we do, the results are usually not good. A parade in Midland, Texas was the most recent site of one of these horrific accidents. However, this accident had a slightly unique twist on it that we do not see with the typical passenger car and train accident. This accident involved something similar to a tram that crossed the train’s path during the parade.
The vehicle that was struck by the train was described as a couple of trucks pulling two, flat-bed trailers. Sitting on the trailers, in chairs, were veterans who had been injured while at war. Some of these veterans were also accompanied on the trailer by their wives. Four Marine and Army veterans were killed in the crash, which involved a Union Pacific train. A total of 16 people were injured during the accident. Five of the 16 are still in the hospital, but only one of them is considered to be in critical condition.
So, how did such a tragic event happen at something so festive, like a parade? Well, that is being officially investigated as we speak. However, we do know a couple of details that regard a timeline of the event, and these would temporarily place the fault on the float driver.
According to officials with the train company, they say that federal guidelines require the bells and whistles to sound 20 seconds before the train reaches the crossing. Immediately after the bells and lights are activated, the crossing guards are to start coming down. Both of these occurred as they should according to a statement issued by officials.
However, it is noted that the tram was seen heading across the track after the warning lights had been activated. It is a federal law that once the signal has notified traffic that a train is approaching, the vehicle has to stop. The slow-moving tram did not quite make it across in time, and a horrific accident occurred as a result.
A prayer vigil will be held tonight in honor of those who were injured or killed in the accident. The investigation is ongoing, and Union Pacific officials and other investigators are working closely together to try and discover an official cause for the deadly collision. Our thoughts and prayers are with those injured or killed as well as their family and friends.