Sgt. Joshua Michael -- who died a hero saving his wife -- and three other veterans were killed when a powerful train hit a parade float they were riding to a 'Show of Support' dinner in Midland, Texas (video below).
The other three people killed were Sgt. Maj Gary Stouffer, Sgt. Maj Lawrence Boivin and Sgt. Maj William Lubbers. Another 16 people were taken to Midland Memorial Hospital with injuries, reports the Daily Mail.
Sgt. Michael was among the 26 people seated on the flat beds of two tractor trailer rigs that paraded through downtown Midland. As the two trailers crossed the train tracks, a Union Pacific train flew down the tracks at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Union Pacific spokesman Tom Lange said the train was sounding its horn before it hit the float at 60 m.p.h.
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Lange said the crossing gate and lights were working at the time, but he didn't know if the train crew saw the float approaching.
However, witnesses reported that the crossing arms never lowered at the intersection.
The first float pulled ahead and cleared the tracks, but the second float, still filled with people, was hit by the train.
Sgt. Michael's mother-in-law, Mary Hefley, said that her son pushed his wife Daylyn off the float just seconds before the train's impact, which likely saved her life.
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Hefley told the Amarillo Globe News: "He was that kind of guy. He would do for others before he would do for himself."
Sgt. Michael served 10 years in the U.S. Army and was awarded two Purple Heart medals before retiring due to brain injuries he suffered after being hit by an IED in Iraq.
Sgt. Michael leaves behind his wife and two children, Ryan, 13, and Maci, 11. The family lives in San Antonio, where Sgt. Michael worked as a real estate agent.