A parade float filled with wounded veterans that was struck by a freight train had crossed onto the railroad tracks after warning signals were going off, investigators say. It was the second of two floats carrying veterans in Thursday's parade in Midland, Texas. The first was exiting the tracks when the warning bells and signals were activated, 20 seconds before the accident, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The second float didn't enter the tracks until several seconds after the warning system went off, the NTSB said. By that time, the guardrail was lowering.
The timeline was pieced together by combining information from a video camera mounted on the front of the train, another one on a sheriff's car, and a data recorder that acts like an airplane's black box, activating when the train blared the horn. Nine seconds before the crash, the train sounded its horn, a blaring that lasted four seconds, according to Rosekind. The guardrail hit the truck, then the engineer pulled the emergency brake, trying to bring the train that was traveling at 62 mph to a screeching halt. Four veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan were killed, at least two of whom pushed their wives to safety first, and 16 more people were injured in the crash.