The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of a massive accident which occurred last night in Texas, in which a freight train crashed into a parade float.
Four participants died and 17 others suffered injuries, as a float carrying wounded veterans was squashed on its way to the ceremony.
According to CBS News, the train slammed into the float at around 4:40 p.m. The eastbound train collided with the vehicle transporting attendants to the event in Midland, 320 miles from the city of Dallas.
Two people died immediately after the crash, while the other two passed away in hospital care, at the Midland Memorial Hospital.
7 victims have suffered life-threatening wounds, finding themselves in critical condition, while seven others are stable and currently recovering.
Officials are looking into why the train driver didn't stop for the large, ornate tractor-trailer carrying veterans to the “Hunt for Heroes” banquet.
“There is going to be a very thorough investigation. [...] It's obviously a very tragic incident,” City of Midland spokesman Ryan Stout comments.
It appears the railroad was properly fitted with a crossing gate and warning lights, which were functioning at the time. Witnesses claim the Union Pacific train sounded its horn before crashing into the crowd.
The theory that train crew didn't spot the trailer has been put forward, following a preliminary analysis. However, the vehicle was decorated with American flags and a banner across its front bumper.
As passengers on the truck saw the train approaching, frenzy followed.
“My daughter said, 'Momma, the train is coming!' and she was looking for it as I saw the trailer begin to cross the railroad tracks,” witness Patricia Howle recalls.
“People were jumping off, trying to get off that trailer and the truck was still rolling. People on the trailer saw the train coming and they were flying in every direction,” she describes.