Last week, a tragic train accident claimed the life of four veterans, two of whom were from North Carolina. The fatal accident occurred last Thursday in Midland, Texas, when a train barreled into a float carrying wounded veterans and their spouses to a banquet honoring returning war heroes.
According to witnesses, the Union Pacific train appeared suddenly as the floats made their way across the railroad tracks. As the train got closer, the crossing barriers started coming down but one of the flatbed tractor-trailers carrying the vets couldn’t move because of the float in front of it.
People reportedly began jumping from the floats in effort to get away from the oncoming train. When the train struck the float, chaos broke loose, witnesses said. Veterans and volunteers rushed around to help the injured. In all, 16 were hurt and four were killed, including a 43-year-old veteran from Fayetteville.
In the wake of the tragedy, lawyers hired by accident victims have already begun preparing for the lawsuits that will likely result against Union Pacific and Smith Industries, the provider of the tractor-trailers. One vet who sought legal representation broke his spine in the accident and hasn’t had feeling in his legs since.
One of the lawyers hired to represent the veteran and his wife said that they believe the crossing itself may have been unsafe because witnesses have said that the warning time was very short.
A spokesman for Union Pacific said the crossing was in compliance with federal regulations, and he said the NTSB determined that the driver of the float chose to cross in an unsafe manner.
According to an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, the train was traveling at 62 mph when it struck the back of the flatbed. Undoubtedly, a lengthy investigation and litigation process lies ahead for the victims and their families.
Source: MyWestTexas.com, “Lawyers prepare for possible litigation in train wreck aftermath,” Sara Higgins, Nov. 20, 2012; MyFox8.com, “Three NC victims killed in Texas parade accident,” Scott Gustin, Nov. 16, 2012