Sgt Joshua Michael, a Purple Heart recipient, was killed along with three other people when a train slammed into a parade float they were riding to a veterans’ banquet in Midland, Texas, but not before committing one final act of heroism by pushing his wife off the doomed vehicle.
The victim, identified by authorities as Sgt Joshua Michael, 34, was among the 26 people riding on a flatbed truck en route to a ‘Show of Support’ dinner in their honor when a Union Pacific freight train suddenly appeared on the tracks and ploughed through the float.
According to Michael’s mother-in-law, Mary Hefley, the Iraq war veteran pushed his wife of 15 years, Daylyn, off the float just moments before impact, saving her life in the process.
“He was that kind of guy,’ Hefley told Amarillo Globe News. ‘He would do for others before he would do for himself.’
According to Michael’s mother-in-law, the 34-year-old man was one of two people who had succumbed to their injuries at Midland Memorial Hospital. According to officials, two others died at the crash site.
Michael served 10 years in the U.S. Army and was awarded two Purple Heart medals before being medically retired due to brain injuries he had suffered after being hit by an IED while serving with the Mighty 101st Airborne Division.
According to Hefley, Michael attended Amarillo College and later practiced paramedicine for Northwest Texas Hospital before enlisting after 9/11.
The Hereford native leaves behind his wife and two children. The family lives in San Antonio, where the 34-year-ld victim worked as a real estate agent.
Michael’s friend Cory Rogers released a statement from the family saying in part, ‘Words cannot express our grief or our feelings in this moment of profound loss. Josh was the kind of man who fought for what he believed in and for those he loved.’
‘He was just a great family guy,’ Rogers told Today. ‘Just, you know, an all-around American hero in my opinion.’
Four people have died and 16 were injured in west Texas after a freight train slammed into a parade float carrying wounded veterans en route to a charity benefit.
The veterans and their wives were seated on the flat beds of two tractor trailer rigs that paraded through downtown Midland, Texas, to a ‘Show of Support’ banquet in their honor.
As the two trailers crossed the train tracks, a Union Pacific train suddenly appeared, barreling down the tracks about 4.30pm on Thursday.
Event organizers say 24 veterans and their spouses were on the trailers, en route from a downtown hotel to a banquet in their honor, according to the newspaper.
The trailer that was hit by the train had 26 people on it — a dozen veterans an their wives and girlfriends, plus two parade organizers.
The eastbound train was sounding its horn before it hit the float, Union Pacific spokesman Tom Lange said.
The train was traveling about 60mph. The speed limit for locomotives passing through Midland was increased from 40mph in 2003.
A preliminary investigation indicates the crossing gate and lights were working at the time, Lange said, though he didn’t know if the train crew saw the float approaching.
However, witnesses reported that the crossing arms never lowered at the intersection, leaving the truck driver and the veterans completely off guard.
The National Transportation Safety Board is on the scene, investigating the cause of the crash, along with local sheriff’s deputies and police.
The parade was meant to kick off a weekend of celebration for the veterans, who were supposed to go on an all-expense-paid whitetail deer hunting trip this weekend, while their wives were treated to a weekend out on the town.
Those events have been canceled as the community reels from the disaster.
‘I’m just sick. I’m sick to my stomach,’ Mayor Wes Perry told the Reporter-Telegram.