NTSB: Warning Signals Activated Before Float Crossed

Josh Navarro
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- Federal investigators say the warning signals at a railroad crossing were activated before a parade float crossed the tracks in an accident that killed four veterans on Thursday. The National Transportation Safety Board held another news conference on Saturday afternoon to explain where they stand in the investigation.

The tracks are cleared and traffic is moving again three days after the crash. NTSB investigators were on site Saturday morning where the crash happened to see if there was anything abnormal.

Investigators say the warning signs at the railroad crossing were activated before the parade float crossed the tracks.

"At this point, we have information saying the warning signs and things were working. Why is it important to say working, is that we don't know if the timing and synchronization was correct or not, that's part of what we're still doing," NTSB Spokesperson, Mark Rosekind, said.

During their investigation with video cameras from the train, sheriff's vehicle and the train's event recorder, they were able to muster a timeline.

21 seconds before the crash, the south traffic light turns green, NTSB says allowing clearing for crossing.

20 seconds prior, NTSB says the bells and lights were activated on the grade crossing warning system.

13 seconds prior to the crash, the gates start coming down and then at 12 seconds before the crash, the front of the accident truck starts to cross the north rail.

9 seconds out, train engineers sounded the horn for four seconds.

7 seconds out, the crossing gates come down striking the flags on the float.

5 seconds out the train activates the emergency brakes and 75 seconds later, the train comes to a stop.

"With all of this data, we were also able to determine the collision happened about 4:36 p.m.," Rosekind said.

Rosekind said the train engineer and the conductor were interviewed Saturday but no details were released on what they discussed. However, railroad mechanicals were released.

"I can tell you at this point all of the records and things we've obtained show no anomalies and the inspection have not shown any anomalies, maintenance records were obtained and there are no defects, they are outstanding," Rosekind said.

NTSB has not interviewed the parade driver but they it's in the works. They're also looking to see if the organization, along with police, notified the railroad of the parade happening last Thursday and if they obtained a parade permit.