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Police: 4 vets killed after train hit parade float

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)

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 and pubic safety officials huddle 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)

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)

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MIDLAND, Texas (AP) — Four veterans were killed and 16 other people were injured when a train slammed into a parade float carrying the returning heroes to a banquet to honor them in West Texas, officials said Friday.

A float decorated with American flags and carrying wounded veterans and their spouses to a banquet in West Texas took the full force of a train at a railroad crossing, killing at least four veterans and injuring 16 people.

Some managed to jump clear as the train, with its horn blasting, bore down on the float decorated with American flags Thursday afternoon. Horrified spectators at the parade could only watch as the carnage unfolded.

“The train honked its horn, but the 18-wheeler could not go anywhere because of the other one (truck) being right in front of it,” said Daniel Quinonez, who was waiting in his vehicle as the parade went by. “It was a horrible accident to watch happen right in front of me. I just saw the people on the semi-truck’s trailer panic, and many started to jump off the trailer. But it was too late for many of them.”

Early Friday, Midland city spokesman Ryan Stout said 37-year-old Sgt. Maj. Gary Stouffer and 47-year-old Sgt. Maj. Lawrence Boivin were pronounced dead at the scene. Army Sgt. Joshua Michael, 34, and Sgt. Maj. William Lubbers, 43, were pronounced dead later at Midland Memorial Hospital.

Police confirmed the identities of the dead. Of the 16 others hurt in the crash, four are in stable condition and one is critical. Ten others were treated and released from the hospital.

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Terry Wallace reported from Dallas. Associated Press writer James Beltran also contributed to this report from Dallas.

Associated Press

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