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Texas grand jury takes up veterans train crash

January 09, 2013|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske
  • A roadside memorial near the scene days after the deadly collision.
A roadside memorial near the scene days after the deadly collision. (James Durbin / Midland Reporter-Telegram )

HOUSTON -- West Texas grand jurors on Wednesday are expected to consider the case of a train collision that killed four veterans riding on a parade float last fall.

Midland County prosecutor Eric Kalenak will present the case Wednesday to a 12-member grand jury, according to the Associated Press. Kalenak would not tell the AP whether he would recommend an indictment in connection with the Nov. 15 crash, in which a flatbed truck the veterans were riding on in a parade was hit by a Union Pacific train.

Kalenak told the Midland Reporter-Telegram this week that he planned to present the grand jury with details from a "thorough" investigation of the train wreck, although he declined to release the Midland police report.

He did not say why Midland police chose not to file charges against Dale Hayden, the Smith Industries Inc. driver of the parade float that was struck during the annual "Hunt for Heroes" parade.

The National Transportation Safety Board was still investigating the crash Wednesday, a spokesman told the Los Angeles Times, and investigators had yet to interview Hayden, 50, who is also a veteran.

Hayden's attorney and an attorney for Smith Industries did not immediately return calls Wednesday.

Kalenak was in grand jury proceedings and could not be reached Wednesday morning, staff said.

It’s not clear what caused the crash. Omaha, Neb.-based Union Pacific Corp. said in December that at the time of the collision, workers were adjusting the timing of the crossing signal where the crash occurred.

The grand jury has up to six months to decide whether or not to return an indictment in the case.

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