(Midland, Texas – January 9, 2013)
Wednesday afternoon, a Midland County, TX Grand Jury declined to bring criminal charges against the driver of a donated flatbed semi-trailer truck. The rig was being used as a parade float in Midland’s annual “Show of Support” event honoring wounded veterans and their wives, when it was struck by a Union Pacific freight train traveling 62 mph at the crossing of South Garfield Street and UP railroad tracks November 15, resulting in the deaths of four American heroes and injuring 16 others, who included both servicemen and their wives.
Midland County prosecutor Eric Kalenek had presented the case to the newly-impanelled 12-member Grand Jury a week ago, but had made no recommendation on indictment of Smith Industries truck driver Dale Andrew Hayden, himself a veteran of two Middle East deployments.
District Attorney Teresa Clingman said that “The Grand Jury will continue its work at its next meeting three weeks from now,” while District Clerk Ross Bush explained that “There is privileged information in the Grand Jury room. The privilege that I get out of it is if it is a true bill or a no bill.” As a “No Bill,” any criminal case against Hayden is completed without charge, but the filing of civil suits could be the reason for the Grand Jury to continue its review of the tragic accident itself.
The Grand Jury’s decision not to bring criminal charges mirrored that of the Midland Police Dept. Upon whose accident report the submission of the case for consideration had refused to issue charges against the driver before Christmas.