Shock of Tragic Train Crash Starts to Sink in 11/16/12
CBS 7 Reporter
November 16, 2012
Midland, TX - The devastating train crash that left 4 American war heroes dead has captivated America.
Now in this time of tragedy the community is left to figure out just what happened in this celebration gone wrong.
The weekend kicked off with a luncheon and a parade to honor wounded warriors and their families, but the celebration quickly turned into a nightmare.
"We just heard that a truck was hit by a train then a few minutes later the chief deputy came in an told us it was the trailer carrying the heroes and their families,” says Show of Support volunteer Rebecca Patterson.
At the tail end of the parade a trailer carrying the veterans and their spouses was hit by the Union Pacific train, leaving 4 veterans dead and 16 others wounded.
"As long as I've been here, I haven't seen something of this magnitude," says Midland Memorial Hospital Spokesperson Marcy Madrid.
Now the NTSB is trying to figure out just how this could have happened.
In the mean time, the community is coming together to help these families heal through prayer vigils and blood drives packed with West Texans.
"Being a medic, my job was taking care of soldiers. I didn't get to do that today,” says Iraq War Veteran Chris Mathman. “My break from the military will be as short as possible. I'll be at the recruiting office tomorrow. That why I got here, because I want to help people. I got here because I got to help people. Being a medic in the army was my calling and I'm getting back to it as soon as possible"
"We are here for you,” says Gold Star Mom Denise Garza. “Just like when we started this parade we are here."
In any case, the men honored as American heroes are still being celebrated as just that.
Tomorrow at 6:00 pm Mayor Wes Perry, along with local pastors and Congressman Mike Conaway will host a community-wide candlelight vigil to show support for the victims and families that were affected by the crash.
It will take place at Centennial Plaza in downtown Midland.
Mayor Perry is also asking people to show support by lowering their flags to half-mast until Monday morning at 8:00 am or by displaying an American flag near homes and businesses.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board also arrived from Washington D.C. to begin a 7 to 10 day on-sight investigation.
NTSB spokesman Mark Rosekind says specialists will collect footage such as the train's forward facing camera, a recorder that monitors the horn, speed and slow downs. The board will even document the camera on the sheriff's car, which was directly behind the float that was struck.
The board says at this time, they know the train was traveling 62 mph, which is below the 70 mph speed limit.
They can also tell that the emergency break was used prior to the crash.
Right now they are trying to figure out if the signals near the train crossing were working properly.
The goal of the investigation is to find the probable cause, allowing the board to issue a safety recommendation so accidents like this will never happen again.