Midland, TX- After almost a year-long investigation, the NTSB has concluded that fatal accident between a tractor-trailer and a train last Veteran’s Day was caused by poor planning on the part of parade organizers and city officials.
The accident, which garnered national attention, took place during a Veteran’s Day parade last year in Midland, Texas. A number of war veterans and their families were winding through the town on truck beds and other vehicle in their way to a hunt and a dinner.
The parade was to wind through parts of the town and included a rail road crossing. Among the floats was a Peterbilt tractor-truck hauling a flat-bed, which was carrying over a dozen veterans and was escorted by two law enforcement patrol cars. As the tractor-trailer was crossing a set of railroad tracks, it paused leaving the flat-bed straddling the tracks. While stopped on the tracks, the flat-bed was struck by a train, leaving four veterans dead and approximately 16 people injured.
In the wake of the accident, the tractor-trailer driver said he never saw any warning signals before he proceeded across the tracks. But other witnesses said they could see the arms of the crossing arms coming down over the flat-bed.
The NTSB found that the appropriate crossing signals went off at the mandated 20 seconds of warning signals including bells and flashing lights. Their investigation concluded that the truck driver failed to see the warnings because he was looking at his passengers as he negotiated a dip in the road before the crossing, according to Trucking Info.
The agency also found that the truck driver had an expectation of safety after the parade floats were escorted through red lights and were given the right of way repeatedly as they traveled through the town. That expectation of safety along with the noise of the parade contributed to the tragic accident.
Investigators were critical of the parade organizers and city officials. The cited organizers, Show of Support, failed to obtain the proper permits and did not have a safety plan or conduct risk assessment tests.
The agency also cited the city of Midland for allowing the parade to continue even though the organizers did not obtain the necessary permits. Had the city required the proper permits and contacted the railroad, they could have reduced train speeds, halted trains until the parade has passed or provided flagmen to help the floats negotiate the tracks. All of those measures could have prevented the tragedy.
The investigation relieves the truck driver of some of the liability, but he may still be partially liable for the accident. In this accident, it appears as though several parties can be held accountable for the four deaths and numerous injuries.
This particular truck accident demonstrates the complexity of truck accidents and how necessary it is to retain a truck accident attorney. Their guidance is essential to ensuring all responsible parties compensate the accident victims.