Witnesses Describe Impact, Chaos as 4 Veterans are Killed by Train

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. (AP Photo/Reporter-Telegram, James Durbin)
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MIDLAND, Texas (AP) - A man who had been volunteering at yesterday's parade honoring veterans in Midland, Texas, says it was "a scene of total chaos" after a train hit a parade float carrying wounded vets and their spouses.

The volunteer, who had served as a front-line physician in Iraq, says the aftermath of the collision reminded him of the war. He says veterans immediately started treating the wounded with limited medical supplies.

The crash left four veterans dead and 16 other people injured, as the float took the full force of the train at a crossing. Some people managed to jump clear.

A woman who was on a float ahead of the one that was hit says her float had just crossed the tracks, and was moving slowly. Pam Shoemaker says she and her husband -- a special ops veteran -- heard the train coming, and started to jump off their trailer. She says, "We saw people jumping from the other trailer, and then there was the impact."

She says the other veterans rushed to help the injured, and that her husband was able to resuscitate one person.

The head of the National Transportation Safety Board told NBC this morning that the train was equipped with a forward-facing camera, and that the video could help in the investigation of the crash.