Veterans were being honored at the ninth annual Show of Support Parade and spent the weekend together at a special event. But that event was cancelled Thursday night and an entire community is in mourning.
The horrifying chain of events started with a celebration as a group of wounded warriors and their loved ones were sitting on the back of a trailer as part of the parade. Moments later, a trailer with a license plate that read "Heroes on Board" was barely recognizable after bearing the blunt of a blow from a freight train.
Some vets were able to run off in time to save themselves, but others in wheelchairs were not so lucky.
"Some people were able to jump off and some, they were sitting on the wheelchair on top of that, and they couldn't do nothing about it," said Hamid Vatankhah.
The National Transportation Safety Board was on-scene investigating Thursday night. Meanwhile, the Midland community lined up to give blood and reflected on how the day started so well but ended so tragically.
"I was at the parade at 4 o'clock. They passed by waving and celebrating. Midlanders lining the streets flying flags and waiving and so proud of these guys. We're all terribly sad," said Midland Mayor Wes Perry.
Some witnesses say the crossing gate was not sounding and the lights were not working. But Union Pacific insists that both were operational at the time of the crash.
Some observers say the warning sounds may have been drowned out by the police sirens that were escorting the parade float on its route.