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