Midlanders Mark One Year Anniversary of Train Tragedy

Midlanders Mark One Year Anniversary of Train Tragedy

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - Midlanders marked a somber milestone on Friday. It was one year ago, on Nov. 15, 2012, that four veterans were killed after a train slammed into the parade float they were riding on.

There's no doubt people will remember this accident as one of the darkest days in Midland's history. The tragedy brought changes to city ordinances but it also spurred lawsuits.

For those who witnessed the accident, it feels like it was just yesterday.

"It was very traumatic, I was very shocked by it," Yvonne Tenorio said.

Four veterans died during what was supposed to be a celebration of their service and families.

A Union Pacific train struck the parade float they were riding on.

Tenorio watched the tragedy unfold on the tracks from her office window.

"Some men had thrown some women off the back of that flatbed truck," she said.

They were heroes even in their last moments.

One year later, the images from that day are still very fresh.

"I do think about it everyday," Tenorio said. "There's not a day that hasn't gone by that I don't think about it."

Since then, changes have been made to prevent another tragedy from happening.

Earlier this year, Midland City Council members updated their special events ordinance. Groups wanting to host parades or races must get a permit to do so. Events cannot go over railroad crossings or state highways unless the agency gives their permission.

Still, some say the change is too little, too late.

Just about everybody has their opinion for who's to blame.

The NTSB recently released the findings from their investigation. The agency faulted the City of Midland and Show of Support for failing to, "identify the risks with routing a parade over a highway-railroad crossing."

The NTSB did not find any fault with Union Pacific but several of those affected by the crash feel differently.

Families of the victims and survivors have filed a lawsuit against the railroad company and Smith Industries, the company that owned the trailer that was hit.

That trial is set for April.

A year later, Tenorio said she's more cautious when crossing a railroad. She hopes instead of placing blame, the community will remember the lives lost. She's sending a message to their loved ones.

"These families have had to experience a loss and our prayers are with them," Tenorio said. "I do wish them well and time will heal."