Trial Begins in Midland Veterans Parade Crash


Second Lawsuit in 2012 Collision Between Freight Train and Parade Float

The trial began yesterday in the horrific crash between a freight train and a parade float carrying 26 veterans and their families to a parade in their honor. Attorneys picked the jury on Tuesday and presented opening statements on Wednesday morning at the Midland County Courthouse. The jury consists of six women and six men who will hear the facts about this devastating tragedy. 

26 plaintiffs settled an earlier lawsuit filed against Union Pacific Railroad for a confidential damages award, while 17 others opted to take their case to trial.

Four People Killed and 16 Injured in Freight Crash

The tragic crash occurred on November 15, 2012 in Midland. Parade participants were piled onto a flatbed truck decorated as a parade
float. 12 of the 26 people on the float that day were U.S.
servicemembers who had been wounded in action. A U.S. Armed Forces veteran was accompanied by his spouse. Two civilians were acting as escorts.

The float was en route to the festivities sponsored by the city
of Midland and a local charity called Show of Support/Hunt for Heroes.
As the float crossed the railroad tracks, a Union Pacific Railroad freight train on its way from to Shreveport struck the truck. Two veterans
died immediately upon impact and two others died later at the hospital.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that the
float moved onto the tracks after the warning bells and lights had
signaled the approaching train and while the crossing gates were already lowering. The train conductor blared the horn nine seconds before
hitting the truck and activated the emergency brake seconds before
impact. At the time of the collision, the train was travelling at 62
mph.

NTSB Found City and Parade Organizers at Fault for Deadly Accident

The NTSB report concluded that the probable cause of the accident was “the failure of the city of Midland and the parade organizer to identify and mitigate the
risks associated with routing a parade through a highway – railroad
grade crossing.” The safety organization also faulted the city for
allowing the parade without proper permitting each year between 2009 and 2012. Nobody notified the railroad company in advance of the event and
so Union Pacific Railroad took no special precautions regarding
rescheduling train traffic or slowing down at the crossings in Midland.

Union Pacific was also blamed for the accident. The railroad
corporation installed railroad crossing gates in Midland several months
prior to the crash that were set to provide 25 seconds of warning to
before approach of a train. However this violated terms between the
railroad and the state of Texas that the gates would lower 30 seconds
before the train approached. Taxpayer dollars funded the safety measure.

Victims Were American Heroes

The four veterans who were killed were American heroes. All had been
wounded in combat and were awarded the Purple Heart. The heroic men who
died needlessly in the train crash are:

  • Lawrence Boivin, U.S. Army, decorated with the Purple Heart and Silver Star
  • William Lubbers, U.S. Army, decorated with the Purple Heart and Silver Star three times
  • Joshua Michael, U.S. Army, decorated with the Purple Heart two times
  • Gary Stouffer, U.S. Marine Corps, decorated with the Purple Heart

I will update you on the outcome of the trial on this blog.

Do Not Try to Beat the Train

Although the city, the event organizers and the railroad shared blame in this tragic crash, the driver should have obeyed the signals of the
approaching train. Trains often look like they are farther away and
travelling much slower than their actual speed. Never try to beat the
train. Once the signals indicate the train’s approach, stop and wait for it to pass.

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