Driver of parade truck won't be indicted in Texas train crash

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 1/10/2013

The driver of a truck that was struck by a train during a military veterans’ parade in November 2012 will not be indicted, a grand jury in Midland County, TX, said Thursday.

The grand jury returned a “no bill” on the question of whether to indict truck driver Dale Wayne Hayden, 50, as part of the ongoing crash investigation. The grand jury meets again in three weeks to continue the inquest, according to a statement.

“The Grand Jury has not concluded its review of the incident, but has returned a no bill in the matter of the driver of the truck, Dale Wayne Hayden,” Midland County District Attorney Teresa J. Clingman said in a statement.

Four people who were riding on the flatbed during the “Hunt for Heroes” parade honoring military veterans in Midland were killed when a Union Pacific train traveling at 62 mph struck the trailer at a crossing.

Hayden, a military veteran himself, is a driver for Smith Industries in the Midland region.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators have yet to make final determinations in a number of crash factors. NTSB officials do agree that crossing signals and warning systems were operational at the time of the crash.

A source familiar with the railroad and the crossing in Midland says the railroad’s 20-second track detector sensor – which triggers traffic warning signals at the intersection – was set approximately 1,340 feet from the crossing.

According to a railroad rule that requires 20 seconds of warning prior to a train arriving at an intersection, a track sensor should be located 1,700 feet from an intersection to accommodate a maximum train speed limit of 70 mph.

One theory is that the sensor located at 1,340 feet was set for 40 mph trains, and not moved farther up the tracks when the train speed limit was raised in 2006.

There’s also some debate about whether the flatbed trailer had bottomed out or was hung up on tracks or pavement at the time of the crash.

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