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Vets on parade killed at train crossing

  • Bystanders react as emergency personnel work the scene where a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson says there are "multiple injuries" after a Union Pacific train slammed into the trailer, killing at least four people and injuring 17 others. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)

    Bystanders react as emergency personnel work the scene where a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson says there are "multiple injuries" after a Union Pacific train slammed into the trailer, killing at least four people and injuring 17 others. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)

  • Bystanders react as emergency personnel work the scene where a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson says there are "multiple injuries" after a Union Pacific train slammed into the trailer, killing at least four people and injuring 17 others. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)

    Bystanders react as emergency personnel work the scene where a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson says there are "multiple injuries" after a Union Pacific train slammed into the trailer, killing at least four people and injuring 17 others. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)

  • Midland police, fire and sheriffs respond to an accident where a trailer carrying veterans in a parade was struck by a train crossing in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson tells the Midland Reporter-Telegram that a Union Pacific train slammed into the trailer that was on its way to a wounded veterans event, resulting in multiple injuries. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, Tim Fischer)

    Midland police, fire and sheriffs respond to an accident where a trailer carrying veterans in a parade was struck by a train crossing in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson tells the Midland Reporter-Telegram that a Union Pacific train slammed into the trailer that was on its way to a wounded veterans event, resulting in multiple injuries. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, Tim Fischer)

  • Midland police, fire and sheriffs respond to an accident where a trailer carrying veterans in a parade was struck by a train crossing in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson tells the Midland Reporter-Telegram that a Union Pacific train slammed into the trailer that was on its way to a wounded veterans event, resulting in multiple injuries. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, Tim Fischer)

    Midland police, fire and sheriffs respond to an accident where a trailer carrying veterans in a parade was struck by a train crossing in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson tells the Midland Reporter-Telegram that a Union Pacific train slammed into the trailer that was on its way to a wounded veterans event, resulting in multiple injuries. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, Tim Fischer)

  • "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson talks on the phone following a fatal accident where a semi trailer carrying veterans in the Hunt for Heroes parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. Johnson tells the Midland Reporter-Telegram that there are "multiple, multiple" injuries and organizers still are trying to account for everyone. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, Tim Fischer)

    "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson talks on the phone following a fatal accident where a semi trailer carrying veterans in the Hunt for Heroes parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. Johnson tells the Midland Reporter-Telegram that there are "multiple, multiple" injuries and organizers still are trying to account for everyone. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, Tim Fischer)

  • Midland police, fire and sheriffs respond to an accident where a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson tells the Midland Reporter-Telegram that there are "multiple, multiple" injuries and organizers still are trying to account for everyone. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, Tim Fischer)

    Midland police, fire and sheriffs respond to an accident where a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson tells the Midland Reporter-Telegram that there are "multiple, multiple" injuries and organizers still are trying to account for everyone. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, Tim Fischer)

  • Midland police, fire and sheriffs respond to an accident where a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson tells the Midland Reporter-Telegram that there are "multiple, multiple" injuries and organizers still are trying to account for everyone. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, Tim Fischer)

    Midland police, fire and sheriffs respond to an accident where a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson tells the Midland Reporter-Telegram that there are "multiple, multiple" injuries and organizers still are trying to account for everyone. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, Tim Fischer)

  • A parade participants reacts after a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. Authorities say four people are dead and 17 others are injured after a Union Pacific train slammed into the parade float. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)

    A parade participants reacts after a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. Authorities say four people are dead and 17 others are injured after a Union Pacific train slammed into the parade float. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)

  • A parade participants reacts after a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. Authorities say four people are dead and 17 others are injured after a Union Pacific train slammed into the parade float. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)

    A parade participants reacts after a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. Authorities say four people are dead and 17 others are injured after a Union Pacific train slammed into the parade float. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)

  • A flatbed truck carries wounded veterans and their families during a parade before it was struck by a train Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012 in Midland, Texas. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson says there are "multiple injuries" after a Union Pacific train slammed into the trailer, killing at least four people and injuring 17 others. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)

    A flatbed truck carries wounded veterans and their families during a parade before it was struck by a train Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012 in Midland, Texas. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson says there are "multiple injuries" after a Union Pacific train slammed into the trailer, killing at least four people and injuring 17 others. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)

  • A flatbed truck carries wounded veterans and their families during a parade before it was struck by a train Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012 in Midland, Texas. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson says there are "multiple injuries" after a Union Pacific train slammed into the trailer, killing at least four people and injuring 17 others. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)

    A flatbed truck carries wounded veterans and their families during a parade before it was struck by a train Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012 in Midland, Texas. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson says there are "multiple injuries" after a Union Pacific train slammed into the trailer, killing at least four people and injuring 17 others. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)

  • Midland police, fire and sheriffs respond to an accident where a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson tells the Midland Reporter-Telegram that there are "multiple, multiple" injuries and organizers still are trying to account for everyone. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)

    Midland police, fire and sheriffs respond to an accident where a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson tells the Midland Reporter-Telegram that there are "multiple, multiple" injuries and organizers still are trying to account for everyone. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)

  • Midland police, fire and sheriffs respond to an accident where a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson tells the Midland Reporter-Telegram that there are "multiple, multiple" injuries and organizers still are trying to account for everyone. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)

    Midland police, fire and sheriffs respond to an accident where a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson tells the Midland Reporter-Telegram that there are "multiple, multiple" injuries and organizers still are trying to account for everyone. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)

  • Parade participants react after a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson says there are "multiple injuries" after a Union Pacific train slammed into the trailer, killing at least four people and injuring 17 others. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)

    Parade participants react after a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson says there are "multiple injuries" after a Union Pacific train slammed into the trailer, killing at least four people and injuring 17 others. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)

  • Bystanders react as emergency personnel work the scene where a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson says there are "multiple injuries" after a Union Pacific train slammed into the trailer, killing at least four people and injuring 17 others. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)
  • Bystanders react as emergency personnel work the scene where a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson says there are "multiple injuries" after a Union Pacific train slammed into the trailer, killing at least four people and injuring 17 others. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)
  • Midland police, fire and sheriffs respond to an accident where a trailer carrying veterans in a parade was struck by a train crossing in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson tells the Midland Reporter-Telegram that a Union Pacific train slammed into the trailer that was on its way to a wounded veterans event, resulting in multiple injuries. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, Tim Fischer)
  • Midland police, fire and sheriffs respond to an accident where a trailer carrying veterans in a parade was struck by a train crossing in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson tells the Midland Reporter-Telegram that a Union Pacific train slammed into the trailer that was on its way to a wounded veterans event, resulting in multiple injuries. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, Tim Fischer)
  • "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson talks on the phone following a fatal accident where a semi trailer carrying veterans in the Hunt for Heroes parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. Johnson tells the Midland Reporter-Telegram that there are "multiple, multiple" injuries and organizers still are trying to account for everyone. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, Tim Fischer)
  • Midland police, fire and sheriffs respond to an accident where a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson tells the Midland Reporter-Telegram that there are "multiple, multiple" injuries and organizers still are trying to account for everyone. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, Tim Fischer)
  • Midland police, fire and sheriffs respond to an accident where a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson tells the Midland Reporter-Telegram that there are "multiple, multiple" injuries and organizers still are trying to account for everyone. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, Tim Fischer)
  • A parade participants reacts after a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. Authorities say four people are dead and 17 others are injured after a Union Pacific train slammed into the parade float. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)
  • A parade participants reacts after a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. Authorities say four people are dead and 17 others are injured after a Union Pacific train slammed into the parade float. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)
  • A flatbed truck carries wounded veterans and their families during a parade before it was struck by a train Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012 in Midland, Texas. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson says there are "multiple injuries" after a Union Pacific train slammed into the trailer, killing at least four people and injuring 17 others. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)
  • A flatbed truck carries wounded veterans and their families during a parade before it was struck by a train Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012 in Midland, Texas. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson says there are "multiple injuries" after a Union Pacific train slammed into the trailer, killing at least four people and injuring 17 others. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)
  • Midland police, fire and sheriffs respond to an accident where a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson tells the Midland Reporter-Telegram that there are "multiple, multiple" injuries and organizers still are trying to account for everyone. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)
  • Midland police, fire and sheriffs respond to an accident where a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson tells the Midland Reporter-Telegram that there are "multiple, multiple" injuries and organizers still are trying to account for everyone. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)
  • Parade participants react after a trailer carrying wounded veterans in a parade was struck by a train in Midland, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. "Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson says there are "multiple injuries" after a Union Pacific train slammed into the trailer, killing at least four people and injuring 17 others. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)

The eastbound train was sounding its horn before it hit the trailer float around 4:40 p.m. in Midland, Union Pacific spokesman Tom Lange said. A preliminary investigation indicates the crossing gate and lights were working, Lange said, though he didn’t know if the train crew saw the float approaching.

Two people died at the scene, while two others died at Midland Memorial Hospital, City of Midland spokesman Ryan Stout said. Seven of those injured are in critical condition, while the 10 others are in stable condition, he said.

About two dozen veterans and their spouses had been sitting in chairs on the float, set up on the back of a flatbed tractor-trailer decorated with American flags and signs identifying each veteran, photos show.

Panic swept through those seated on trailer as the locomotive’s horn sounded, said Patricia Howle, who was waiting at a nearby traffic light as the train approached.

“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,” Howle told KOSA-TV. “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 added. “I covered my face. I didn’t want to see.”

The float was among two flat-bed trucks carrying veterans and their spouses, police said. The first truck safely crossed the railroad tracks, but the second truck’s trailer was hit by the train. Police said some of the people on the second trailer were able to evacuate before the crash.

A banner across the truck’s front bumper read, “Heroes on Board.”

The parade was to end at a “Hunt for Heroes” banquet honoring the veterans. The wounded service members were then going to be treated to a deer-hunting trip this weekend. The events have been canceled.

Lange said Union Pacific is offering help to the community and victims’ families, as well as peer-to-peer counseling for the train crew, who did not sustain any injuries.

“There is going to be a very thorough investigation,” Lange said. “It’s obviously a very tragic incident.”

The National Transportation Safety Board also is investigating, NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson said.

Midland is about 320 miles west of Dallas

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