(Midland, Texas – November 27, 2012)
The last of the throng of National Transportation Safety Board personnel investigating the November 15 Midland, TX parade train accident tragedy that killed four wounded vets and injured 16 more veterans and their spouses when a Union Pacific freight train going 62 mph plowed into the second of two floats carrying the wounded warriors and their wives, departed Midland Tuesday after completing the on-site portion of the investigation, a phase NTSB Spokesman Peter Knudson referred to as “just the tip of the iceberg.”
The federal agency will issue a preliminary factual report within about 10 business days, but the full report will probably take six months to a year to complete and release.
Still a key piece missing from the NTSB’s on-site data collection in Midland is the interview with the man who was the driver of the second float, a semi-trailer flatbed carrying a dozen wounded vets and their wives. “The driver has not at this point been ready to meet with our investigators,” reported Knudson on Tuesday. He added that an NTSB investigator, probably Robert Accetta who works out of Houston, TX and is the lead investigator for the Midland train tragedy case, will return to Midland once an interview with the truck driver is arranged.
News media requests, such as the one made by the Odessa American, of an interview of the driver’s attorney, Hal Brockett of Midland, have yet to receive a response. However, Brockett has said in the past that the driver was under the care of a physician.
Dallas-based Attorney Douglas Fletcher, who represents Smith Industries of Midland, which both employs the driver and donated use of the semi-trailer flatbed truck for the “Show of Support/Hunt for Heroes” parade, had not yet responded to the American’s request for an interview Tuesday.
At the same time, although the NTSB was able to interview them, the locomotive engineer and conductor involved in the Midland train tragedy remain unidentified as Union Pacific keeps them unavailable for media or public scrutiny.