Midland train crash

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Midland train crash
Details
Date November 15, 2012
Time 4:36 PM
Location Midland, Texas
Coordinates 31°59′08″N 102°05′37″W / 31.985629°N 102.093495°W / 31.985629; -102.093495Coordinates: 31°59′08″N 102°05′37″W / 31.985629°N 102.093495°W / 31.985629; -102.093495
Country United States
Operator Union Pacific Railroad
Type of incident Collision
Statistics
Trains 1
Deaths 4
Injuries 16

The Midland train crash was a rail crossing accident that occurred on November 15, 2012 in Midland, Texas. A freight train struck a flatbed trailer being used as a parade float carrying 26 passengers (12 of them United States Armed Forces veterans who had been wounded in action), killing four and injuring 16. The parade was en route to a veterans' benefit sponsored by the local charity Show of Support/Hunt for Heroes.

Accident[edit]

At 4:36 pm on November 15, 2012, an eastbound Union Pacific Railroad freight train traveling 62 miles per hour (100 km/h)[1] en route to Shreveport, Louisiana from Los Angeles, California struck a flat-bed semi-trailer carrying 26 passengers that was acting as a parade float.[2] Of the passengers, 12 were US Armed Forces veterans that had been wounded in action, 12 were the spouses of the veterans, and two were civilian escorts.[3] The impact killed two veterans immediately and two more died later at Midland Memorial Hospital. Sixteen other passengers were injured.

The identity of the truck driver, who survived, is Dale Hayden.[4] In an interview, US Representative Mike Conaway described the driver as a 24-year US Army veteran.[5]

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta made a statement expressing condolences to the victims.[6]

National Transportation Safety Board investigation[edit]

Accident investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were dispatched to the accident to determine the cause. In a press conference on November 17, NTSB member Mark Rosekind stated that the float started crossing the tracks after the warning bells and lights had been activated and while the crossing gate was lowering. The flashing lights and bell had begun 20 seconds before the train entered the intersection, and 7 seconds later the gate began to come down. It was one second after that (12 seconds before impact) that the float began crossing the track. The train sounded its horn 9 seconds before the collision; seconds later the engineer also activated the train's emergency brake.[7][8] The NTSB based these conclusions on video evidence from a dashboard camera mounted on an escorting police cruiser, a forward-mounted camera on the train, and the train's data recorder.[7]

In November 2013, the NTSB issued its report, concluding that the probable cause of this collision was "the failure of the city of Midland and the parade organizer, “Show of Support, Military Hunt, Inc.” (Show of Support), to identify and mitigate the risks associated with routing a parade through a highway – railroad grade crossing." The NTSB also concluded that the city of Midland failed to follow and enforce its own ordinances, allowed the Show of Support parade to take place without a permit from 2009 to 2012, and failed to notify the railroad in advance of the parade.[9]

Union Pacific's installation and programming of the crossing signals[edit]

Following several months of investigation it was learned that: 1) Union Pacific was reimbursed with taxpayers' dollars to install signal gates at the crossing; 2) Union Pacific agreed with the State of Texas that when Union Pacific installed the signal gates at the crossing Union Pacific would program the signals to provide motorists with at least 30 seconds of warning time before the arrival of a train;[10] 3) despite its agreement with the State of Texas that Union Pacific would program the signals to give motorists at least 30 seconds of warning time, Union Pacific programmed the signal system to provide only 25 seconds of warning time;[10]

Victims[edit]

The four veterans killed in the accident had all been wounded in combat overseas:[11]

Name Branch Decorations
Lawrence Boivin United States Army Silver Star, Purple Heart
William Lubbers United States Army 3x Bronze Star, Purple Heart
Joshua Michael United States Army 2x Purple Heart
Gary Stouffer United States Marine Corps Purple Heart

References[edit]

  1. ^ "NTSB: Train Was Traveling Under 70 Mph Speed Limit". Associated Press. Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  2. ^ White, Taylor. "NTSB to use Midlander's film footage". Midland Reporter-Telegram. Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  3. ^ Palmer, Audrie. "Four killed, 16 injured in parade accident". Midland Reporter-Telegram. Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "Before Fatal Midland Train Crash, a Litany of Errors". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  5. ^ "Lights Flashed Before Truck Entered Crossing in Train Crash". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved 18 November 2012. 
  6. ^ "Defense Secretary Panetta comments on Midland tragedy". Midland Reporter-Telegram. Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  7. ^ a b "Officials: Vets' float crossed track after signals". CBS News. 18 November 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2012. 
  8. ^ "Midland train crash: Float crossed as warnings sounded, NTSB says". Los Angeles Times. 
  9. ^ "Synopsis of Report, Railroad Grade Crossing Collision, Midland, Texas, November 15, 2012". National Transportation Safety Board. November 15, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "Midland warning seen as too brief - 30 seconds' notice planned at crossing". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved 10 December 2013. 
  11. ^ Farwell, Scott. "Many questions to answer after train strikes wounded veterans' float in Midland". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 17 November 2012.