Monroe veteran is eye witness to train accident - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; |

Monroe veteran is eye witness to train accident

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MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - A Monroe Sergeant in the Army Reserve speaks out after witnessing a train hit a parade float in Midland, Texas, Thursday afternoon.

The parade was honoring wounded veterans from across the country and now it's a tragic day that Sergeant Tommy Shoemaker will never forget.

Shoemaker was one of 24 wounded veterans from across the country to be honored at the parade. He was on the first of two floats carrying the soldiers and their spouses along the parade route. Just after his float passed over the train tracks, he heard the horn.

"We were sitting there watching, then all of a sudden we saw the train. People started jumping off of it, so all us on the other one started jumping off of it," says Shoemaker.

As people on the second float were trying to escape the train's path, Shoemaker says years of military and medic training kicked in for the veterans.

"We were dragging them from underneath the train, started triage on them. We had to amputate legs. There were people laying there dead already," Shoemaker says.

After clearing debris, crews found more than a dozen seriously injured and 4 veterans dead.

Tommy Shoemaker served multiple tours overseas and says the accident made him feel like he was back in battle. He says local medics did a great job responding, but most of them have never seen anything like it.

"They've never seen a trauma like this, they're used to seeing a car wreck, they've never seen twenty five people hurt," says Shoemaker.

Shoemaker says although a horrific scene he'll never forget, he's glad he and the other veterans were there to help and believes without their immediate action, more people would have been killed in this tragic accident.

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