Janet Shamlian (CNN)
Investigators say the flatbed truck carrying the Veterans started crossing the railroad tracks -- even though warning bells and lights were sounding and flashing.
With information from the train's black box and video from the train and a Sheriff's escort car, the NTSB pieced together a timeline..
Twenty seconds before impact: Bells and lights activate at the crossing as the first of two tractor trailers safely crosses the tracks..13 seconds before: the crossing gates start to come down, 12 seconds before the crash: The second tractor trailer starts across the tracks
9 seconds before.
The engineer sounds the train's horn and just 5 seconds before impact: The engineer slams on the emergency brake but it was too late, and the train slams into the trailer.
First responders say by the time they arrived, the Veterans themselves were already helping each other.
"For many of them their training kicked in (the vets) they jumped off that trailer, they were able to tie tourniquets and stop bleeding vessels, I couldn't have done it without their help," said one witness.
Among them, Tommy Showmaker -- a Special Operations soldier from Monroe, Louisiana. He was on the first float but raced back to help. His wife said "they were trained for tragedy."
Shane Ladner was wounded twice in Iraq. He and his wife May are seen in this video arriving in Midland. Both injured, doctor's had to amputate one of May's legs.
A Facebook page has been set up asking for prayers for the couple.
Doctor Steven Rea, a veteran himself, was in charge of the emergency room as the injured came in. He said even though he's trained to put his emotions aside it was tough.
I found a Veteran in the back room that was still there, he and his wife, and they'd lost everything they had in the wreck, they didn't have any identification, they didn't have any money or funding, and he was a paralysed veteran, I called the pharmacy and told them I would pay for their medications and take care of them. It was an honor to be there and to help the vets."
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