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Train hits trailer carrying wounded veterans during Texas parade; 4 dead

Four people were killed and 17 injured when a flatbed trailer carrying twelve veterans and their spouses during a Midland, Texas, parade was hit by freight train as it was crossing over railroad tracks. NBC's Janet Shamlian reports.

Updated at 8:04 a.m. ET: A train crashed into a tractor-trailer carrying wounded veterans and their spouses in a parade in Midland, Texas, killing at least four people, authorities told NBC News.

At least 17 people were hospitalized, city officials said. Twenty-four veterans and their spouses were on the tractor-trailer, according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram 

NBC station KWES of Midland said the tractor-trailer was part of the Show of Support / Hunt for Heroes parade carrying veterans and their spouses to a banquet in their honor. The benefit dinner was being put on by Show of Support, Military Hunt Inc. in Midland on Thursday night, according to the organization's website.

Cory Rogers speaks with TODAY's Savannah Guthrie about his  friend retired Army Staff Sergeant Joshua Michael, who died while saving his wife when the float they were riding in a Texas parade was hit by a train.

Midland police spokesman Ryan Stout said the crash occurred at 4:36 p.m. local time when an eastbound train hit the flatbed trailer. He said the flatbed was the last of two in the parade attempting to cross the tracks.

"It's hard to look at. It's a very tragic event, very unfortunate," Midland Police Chief Price Robinson told Reuters.

James Durbin / Midland Reporter-Telegram

Bystanders react after a flatbed tractor-trailer carrying wounded veterans and their families during a parade was struck by a train Thursday in Midland, Texas.

The parade and banquet were leading up to whitetail deer-hunting trip for the veterans, according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram. Show of Support president and founder Terry Johnson told the KEWS that the events were canceled.

According to the website, the organization demonstrates support for members of the military and seeks to bring public awareness of hunting and fishing.

There have been 477 railway-related fatalities between January and August of this year, according to federal railroad safety data. Of those, 93 were related to Union Pacific Railroad, which covers 23 states across the western United States.

National Transportation Safety Board chairwoman Debbie Hersman tells TODAY's Savannah Guthrie that there were some forward-facing cameras on the train involved in Thursday's deadly collision with a parade float in Midland, Texas.

In a statement, Union Pacific spokesman Tom Lange said the crossing has a gate and lights.

“Our preliminary investigation indicates that the lights and gates were operating at the time. Additionally our two person crew sounded the locomotive horn,” Lange said.

Lange said the two-person Union Pacific crew was uninjured.

The National Transportation Safety Board told NBC News that a team has been sent to investigate the accident.

A train crashed into a flatbed trailer carrying wounded veterans at a parade in Midland, Texas, on Thursday. NBC's Mike Taibbi reports.

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