NEW INFO: Driver Named In Deadly Veterans Float Wreck

The driver of a parade float that collided with a train in Midland, Texas, killing four veterans, has been identified as 50-year-old Dale Hayden. Reports indicated the man is a veteran himself.

The identification comes the day federal investigators arrived in Texas to piece together a reconstruction of the wreck and figure out what happened.

On Thursday, November 15th, more than 20 veterans and their spouses were riding on a float for a Veteran's celebration to a hero's banquet in their honor. That is when authorities said a Union Pacific train collided with the float. Four veterans died in the wreck, and 17 others were injured. Union Pacific spokesman Tom Lange said the eastbound train was sounding its horn before it hit the float Thursday as it approached a railroad crossing in Midland. He said the crossing gate and lights were working at the time.

Killed in the crash was Chief Warrant Officer 3 Gary Stouffer, who was most recently stationed aboard Camp Lejeune. His wife, Catherine was also injured but has since been treated and released from the hospital.

Also killed in the wreck, Army Sgt. Maj. Lawrence Boivin, 47; Army Sgt. Joshua Michael, 34; and Army Sgt. Maj. William Lubbers, 43.

No word yet on charges for Hayden.

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Organizers of a parade in West Texas in which U.S. military veterans were killed when a train plowed into a truck had been using the same route for three years.

National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Mark Rosekind made that announcement Sunday.

Four war veterans were killed during the parade in Midland on Thursday.

Rosekind identified the company that donated the truck as oilfield services company Smith Industries. He said the company is cooperating with investigators.

Investigators have not released the identity of the driver. Rosekind say they expect to interview the driver on Monday.

According to its website, Smith Industries sells and manufactures oilfield service equipment.

Rick B. Smith, Smith Industries' CEO and president, did not immediately respond to phone calls or emails seeking comment.
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Federal investigators say the warning signals at a railroad crossing in West Texas were activated before a parade float crossed the tracks, leading to an accident that killed military veterans.

National Transportation Safety Board member Mark Rosekind made that announcement at a news conference Saturday. He said the signals had been activated seven seconds before the float crossed the tracks.

Four veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan were killed Thursday when a freight train slammed into the parade float in Midland. Sixteen people were injured.

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Two days after a train suddenly plowed into a parade float, killing four war veterans, the city of Midland, investigators and the victims' families began what likely will be a long, painful recovery.

The truck that served as the parade float had been removed from the tracks and federal investigators were working to determine what exactly happened, including whether the parade had enough warning to clear the tracks. Investigators Saturday measured distances, photographed the site and tested equipment, trilling the warning bells periodically.

Residents in the town of nearly 114,000 that has long lived alongside a vibrant railroad industry planned a weekend candlelight vigil.

One question that remains is whether the parade had the proper permit. The parade has been an annual event in Midland for nine years, but City Manager Courtney Sharp declined to say whether the group, Show of Support/Hunt for Heroes, had the necessary paperwork to hold the event.

Railroads, though, are a vital part of Midland, a town that sits in the heart of Texas' oil rich Permian basin. Three or four tracks lie within city limits, and the site of the accident is just about 10 minutes from downtown, said Midland spokesman Ryan Stout.

That's considered when the city grants permits for parades and other events, Sharp said.

"We take all steps into consideration when we permit," he said. "I hate to go down that track until all of the investigation is over, but yes we do take that stuff into account."

The freight train careening down the track at 60 mph late Thursday slammed with a thunderous crack into the parade float carrying war veterans.

Four veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan were killed — including an Army sergeant who apparently sacrificed his life to save his wife — and 16 people were injured.

Other veterans nearby and those who managed to jump clear of the wreck went to work caring for the injured.

Killed were Marine Chief Warrant Officer 3 Gary Stouffer, 37; Army Sgt. Maj. Lawrence Boivin, 47; Army Sgt. Joshua Michael, 34; and Army Sgt. Maj. William Lubbers, 43.

Five people remained hospitalized early Saturday. In Midland, three people were in stable condition and one in critical. None of the injuries are life-threatening, said hospital spokeswoman Marcy Madrid. A fifth person who was transferred to a Lubbock hospital shortly after the accident is in serious condition.

The veterans were on their way to a banquet in their honor and were being cheered by a flag-waving crowd. Their float was inching across a railroad track in Midland when the crossing gates began to lower.

Locals were struggling to cope with a tragedy at the start of what was supposed to be a three-day weekend of banquets, deer hunting and shopping in appreciation of the veterans' sacrifice.

Instead, they planned a candlelight vigil where officials would speak and prayers would be said. Mayor Wes Parry said there has been an outpouring of support, including a blood drive meant to help those who were hurt and makeshift memorials with American flags and flowers at the crash site.

Union Pacific spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza said the speed limit in that area was raised from 40 mph to 70 mph in 2006.

A key question for investigators is whether, after the speed limit was raised, the timing of the crossing gates was changed to give cars and trucks enough time to clear the tracks, Robert Chipkevich, who headed the National Transportation Safety Board's rail investigations until 2010, said in an interview.

Federal Railroad Administration records reviewed by The Associated Press show there were 10 collisions at the crossing between 1979 and 1997. But no accidents had happened in the past 15 years, NTSB member Mark Rosekind said.

Investigators also will look at whether traffic lights prevented the flatbed truck in front from moving ahead, he said.

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An Eastern Carolina Marine family is grieving after their husband and father was killed in that terrible parade float accident in Texas on Thursday.

Midland, Texas police say Chief Warrant Officer 3 Gary Stouffer was killed, along with three others after a train slammed into the float.

Stouffer was one of several wounded members of the military that were being honored by the town. The parade was set to end at a "Hunt for Heroes" banquet. The wounded service members were then going to be treated to a deer-hunting trip this weekend. The events were canceled.

With her grandmother comforting her, 17-year-old Shannon Stouffer talked this afternoon about her father. "He was a really good dad to me and I'm grateful for the parents I have," Shannon told WITN's Carly Swain. "He always seems to keep a straight face in the worst of situations."

Stouffer, who lived in Hubert, had been in the Marine Corps for 17 years and had been deployed multiple times. A bio says during a deployment to Afghanistan, his vehicle was hit by multiple IEDs. He is survived by his wife and two children, ages 16 and 12.

"He was a man that was a soldier, he put his country first," said Stouffer's younger brother, Jason. "He was a husband, he was a father, and he was a sportsman."

Stouffer was a regimental engineer officer with the 10th Marines. His wife, Catherine, was on the float with him when the train collided. Family members tell us she is now on the way home from the hospital.

Another Camp Lejeune Marine was also injured in the accident, while two others killed lived in Fayetteville. They are retired Army Sgt. Major Lawrence Boivin and Army Sgt. Major William Lubbers.

Union Pacific spokesman Tom Lange says the eastbound train was sounding its horn before it hit the float Thursday as it approached a railroad crossing in Midland. He says the crossing gate and lights were working at the time.

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MIDLAND, Texas (AP) -- Authorities say four people are dead and 17 others are injured after a train slammed into a parade float headed to a West Texas event honoring wounded veterans.

Union Pacific spokesman Tom Lange says the eastbound train was sounding its horn before it hit the float Thursday as it approached a railroad crossing in Midland. He says the crossing gate and lights were working at the time.

Lange didn't know if the train crew saw the float approaching.

City of Midland spokesman Ryan Stout says 10 of those injured are in critical condition at Midland Memorial Hospital, while the seven others are in stable condition. He says the crash happened around 4:30 p.m.

The parade was set to end at a "Hunt for Heroes" banquet.

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MIDLAND, Texas (AP) -- City spokesman: 4 dead, 17 hospitalized after train hits veterans' parade float in West Texas.

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MIDLAND, Texas (AP) -- An event organizer says there are "multiple injuries" after a train crashed into a trailer carrying veterans during a West Texas parade.

"Show of Support" president and founder Terry Johnson tells the Midland Reporter-Telegram that a Union Pacific train slammed into a trailer that was on its way to the wounded veterans event about 5 p.m. Thursday.

He says there are "multiple, multiple" injuries and organizers still are trying to account for everyone.