MIDLAND, Tx. (KOSA) – It’s been seven years since a horrific train crash claimed the lives of four veterans in Midland.
In November 2012, a group of wounded veterans were riding on a float in the Hunt for Heroes parade.
When that float tried to cross over railroad tracks, a train crashed into the float killing four veterans and wounding more than a dozen others.
The families of those veterans are now taking their wrongful death claims against the Union Pacific Railroad to the highest court in the country.
Those families are suing because they believe the Union Pacific Rrailroad is responsible for the crash.
They’ve been pursuing the case for years and this is their last stand.
Army Sergeant Major Lawrence Boivin, Army Sergeant Major William Lubbers and Marine Chief Warrant Officer 3 Gary Stouffer all died that day.
The families of these veterans claim they all died because their float wasn’t given enough time to cross the tracks.
The attorney representing those families tells me that crossing originally gave cars a 30 second warning before a train came, but eight months before the parade, it had been cut down to 20 seconds.
He said they did it without getting the approval they needed from the Texas Department of Transportation or the City of Midland.
“If they had left it alone, if Union Pacific had left the setting where it was and not reduced it, this collision would never have happened,” Attorney Doug Alexander said. “The veterans would not have been killed.”
Alexander said his clients feel this is a safety issue that could lead to tragedy again at railroad crossings all over the country.
“Because it has to do with the enforceability of agreements between states and railroads that are mandated by the federal government and, therefore, apply throughout the country,” Alexander said. “We’re hoping that when they look at this issue, they’ll recognize its nationwide importance.”
A representative from the Union Pacific Railroad disputes this claim that they’re responsible citing a report from the National Transportation Safety Board that said they were in compliance with federal standards.
They said: “a Texas trial court and the Court of Appeals ruled Union Pacific complied with federal law and was not legally responsible for this tragic accident and the Texas Supreme Court refused to hear the case.”
Because neither the original trial, nor their appeals to the Texas Supreme Court have been successful, this is the last chance for the case to be heard.
“These families have been waiting man many years to try and get some redress and hopefully that will finally occur,” Alexander said.
Alexander said it will take at least a month to find out where or not the U.S. Supreme Court will hear this case.