5 Fort Hood soldiers dead, 4 missing after Army truck overturns in flooding

USA Today

FORT HOOD, Texas — At least five soldiers were killed Thursday at Fort Hood in Texas when their truck overturned in a creek, according to the Army.

Three soldiers’ bodies were recovered Thursday afternoon. Two more were found Thursday night. Four soldiers remained unaccounted for. Three other soldiers were rescued and taken to a local hospital where they were reported in stable condition.  

Aircraft, dog teams and rescue boats were conducting the search in Owl Creek.

Fort Hood emergency personnel responded to a call for a swift-water rescue at 11:20 a.m. CT Thursday after the Light Medium Tactical Vehicle got stuck at the Owl Creek Tactical low-water crossing and East Range Road, according to information from Fort Hood. The troops were on a training exercise.

Severe storms have pummeled Texas in recent days, with widespread flooding reported across the state. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster across 31 counties, and heavy rain was falling in some places at a rate of up to 3 inches an hour, according to The Weather Channel.

Earlier Thursday, Fort Hood officials announced the closure of roads on the sprawling base due to high water caused by heavy storms in Texas. They warned residents to stay out of areas subject to flooding, warning them on Facebook that not to attempt “to cross flowing water with your vehicle. Turn around…Don’t drown.”

It was an accident-plagued day for the U.S. military.

Two jets went down in unrelated incidents in Colorado and in Tennessee.

In Tennessee, a U.S. Navy Blue Angels jet crashed just after takeoff for a practice flight in Smyrna and the pilot, Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, perished, U.S. Navy officials said.

In Colorado, a U.S. Air Force elite Thunderbird F-16 jet crashed during a flyover for the Air Force Academy’s graduation ceremony near Peterson Air Force Base. That pilot managed to eject safely and without serious injury, Air Combat Command confirmed.

The names of the Fort Hood dead are being withheld until their relatives can be notified.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the military will try to learn lessons from the fatal incidents in Texas and Tennessee, which involved safety issues. Speaking in Singapore on Friday, he said action to prevent similar accidents will be taken when the investigations are complete.

Abbott, the Texas governor, released a statement offering the state’s help to the Fort Hood community “as they deal with this tragedy,” saying “Texas will forever remain grateful for their sacrifices.”

Fort Hood, covering more than 300 square miles, is the largest active duty armored post in the U.S. Armed Services, according to its website. About 41,000 soldiers work there.

Maj. Gen. John C. Thomson III, 1st Cavalry Division Commanding General, said in a release that the 1st Cavalry Division is “deeply saddened by the loss of several Troopers and continue search operations. Your thoughts and prayers are greatly appreciated during this difficult time as we care for the Families, loved ones, and fellow Soldiers of those impacted by this tragedy. God Bless the First Team.”


One thought on “5 Fort Hood soldiers dead, 4 missing after Army truck overturns in flooding

  1. 9 Fort Hood Soldiers Dead After Vehicle Overturns in Texas Floodwaters
    Jun 3 2016 05:30 PM EDT
    By Ada Carr

    Water Rescues in Flooded Texas, More Rain to Come
    Meteorologist Ari Sarsalari talks about the ongoing flood situation in Texas and how there’s more rain in the forecast.
    Army teams and other emergency crews have ended their search after finding the bodies of four missing Fort Hood soldiers whose truck was overturned during a training exercise in Texas on Friday.

    Nine soldiers were killed in the accident.

    The 2 ½-ton truck overturned in Owl Creek during a morning training exercise on the sprawling Central Texas army post. A Fort Hood spokesperson said the truck was going over a crossing flooded by two days of intermittent heavy rains when it was swept away.

    Three other soldiers were rescued and were hospitalized in stable condition.

    A new round of severe thunderstorms drenched southeast Texas Thursday morning, forcing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to declare a state of disaster for 31 counties.

    (FORECAST: More Locally Heavy Rain For Flood-Weary Texas This Week)

    At least two dozen streets were closed, including a stretch of Interstate 35 in San Antonio early Thursday. At least two high water rescues were conducted, one near Lackland Air Force Base, according to the National Weather Service.

    Heavy rain was falling at a rate of up to 3 inches per hour, said weather.com meteorologist Jonathan Erdman, leading to more flash flooding.

    Combined with emergency spillway releases from Medina Lake, a flood wave was expected to move down the Medina River from swollen Medina Lake Thursday morning, potentially impacting property near Castroville, Texas, about 25 miles west-southwest of downtown San Antonio.

    Tornadoes that caused damage were also reported in the Lone Star State and Kansas, where twisters had been spotted for three consecutive days.

    Here are the latest impacts from these storms.

    Current Radar and Flood Warnings
    Current Radar and Flood Warnings
    The green polygons indicate active flash flood warnings.
    Twelve Killed By Flooding

    Sixteen people have died and at least three more are missing as the Plains states continue to deal with flooding brought on by severe storms that repeatedly pounded the region last week. Rivers in the region are cresting at historic highs, prompting numerous evacuations and water rescues.

    Nine soldiers on an army truck died after the vehicle overturned at the Owl Creek Tactical low-water crossing near Lake Belton Thursday, according to a Fort Hood press release. Flooding covered roads and highways throughout the region and heavy rain contributed to the flooding in the area.

    The soldiers are from the 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Calvary Division, KWTX reports. No names were immediately released.

    The body of a 10-year-old boy who fell into the Brazos River in Parker County was recovered Tuesday, NBC DFW reports. According to a Texas Game Warden, the boy’s body was located in Lake Granbury near the Hunter Park subdivision in Hood County. The boy was fishing from the bank of the river Saturday when he lost his footing and fell in.

    Florida Molima, 23, was riding in a car with two others near Comfort, Texas, when the vehicle was swept from the street by a flooded creek. She was reported missing until her body was found around 11 a.m. Sunday about 8 miles downstream.

    (MORE: Photos of the Worst Flooding Parts of Texas Have Seen)

    The Brenham Fire Department told ABC 13 that one person died in a trailer home in Chappell Hill, Texas. The home was flooded as storms stalled over the Brenham area Thursday night. Another person died of a heart attack after their vehicle was swept away by the flood waters on Gayhill Road in Brenham, Texas.

    Sunday a crew aboard a county STAR Flight helicopter discovered a body in Travis County. The body was found on the north end of a retention pond near the Circuit of the Americas auto racing track, near where two people were reported to have been washed away by flooding early Friday, the Associated Press reports. It’s unclear whether the victim is one of the missing.

    The exact details of the incident are still unclear, but reports to police said the individual’s car had been swept off the road and one person was seen hanging onto a pole around 2:30 a.m, according to KXAN. There may have been another person with them.

    The bodies of two missing motorists were found Saturday in separate parts of Washington County, located between Austin and Houston.

    Washington County Judge John Brieden told the Associated Press that the body of Pyarali Rajebhi Umatiya, 59, of College Station, was found in a submerged vehicle. The body of Darren Charles Mitchell, 21, a National Guardsman from Navasota, was found downstream from where his overturned truck had been located earlier.

    Prior to his vehicle being found, Mitchell posted to Facebook when his car was in flood water, “And all I wanted to do was go home.” Friday morning, officials found his truck overturned in water near 105.

    Evacuations and Water Rescues Ongoing

    On Tuesday evening in the Dallas metro, water rescues were reported in the towns of Sachse, Garland and Rowlett, according to National Weather Service storm reports. It wasn’t immediately known how many people needed rescue, or what the condition of those victims were.

    Residents trying to leave Rosenberg, Texas, ahead of rising waters early Tuesday afternoon.(Rosenberg Police Department)
    Simonton, Texas, resident Art Myrick says he’s been ordered or asked to evacuate his home near the Brazos River about 20 times in 18 years, but he didn’t always do so and the house never flooded — until now.

    “We’re gone. Getting too old to live with this,” Myrick said of him and his wife Wednesday, while sitting on a cot inside a Red Cross shelter in Brookshire. “For us, the Lord is in charge of everything and maybe this is his final message to us — a sign it’s time to move on. I hate it because I love that house.”

    Hundreds of residents remained evacuated from their homes as the Brazos River reached 54.7 feet in Fort Bend County, which includes Simonton and has had more than 300 water rescues the last four days, before finally beginning to slowly fall.

    “I’m scared,” said Abigail Salazar, standing in knee-deep water outside her home in Richmond, where she was retrieving personal belongings after the city issued a voluntary evacuation advisory. “My kids ask me in the morning, ‘Ma, what happened? The water is here.'”

    Large swaths of suburban communities southwest of Houston were underwater and hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes before the Brazos River reached 54.37 feet in Fort Bend County, just two years after it had run dry in places because of drought.

    Scott Overpeck, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said that the Brazos will recede in the coming days but that its levels will remain high for up to three weeks, in part because water will need to be released from swollen reservoirs upriver.

    “There’s so much water on the Brazos that it’s going to take a long time to drain through the whole river and drain out into the Gulf of Mexico,” Overpeck said.

    Police in Rosenberg spent much of Tuesday morning and early afternoon conducting water rescues. The Kingdom Heights community west of Houston was completely cut off by floodwater Tuesday morning. The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s office reported that there is no way in or out of the community until the water recedes.

    About 1,000 people had been evacuated from their homes in Fort Bend County as of Tuesday morning.

    Rising water on the Colorado River led authorities to close Lake Austin, Lady Bird Lake, and the rest of the river downstream of Longhorn Dam.

    “We apologize for the timing and inconvenience but this is beyond our control,” the Austin Fire Department said in a statement. “Obviously, safety comes first.”

    In Simonton, the Brazos flooded one home so badly that the residents were forced to bring their horses to the front porch of the house, to keep them out of the floodwaters, KHOU reports.

    Texas prison officials had to evacuate about 2,600 inmates from two prisons along the rain-swollen Brazos River due to expected flooding Sunday, the Associated Press reports. A brawl between inmates and correctional officers broke out Saturday after flooding at a facility about 70 miles northwest of Houston caused a power outage.

    The incident occurred around 10 p.m. Saturday at the Luther Unit prison in Navasota. Flooding caused the prison to switch to its emergency power generator, which malfunctioned and caused the outage. Correctional officers ordered inmates back to their cells, but some refused to comply. Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark estimated as many as 50 inmates in the 1,300-inmate prison were involved. Three were sent to a hospital; one for stitches and two for unrelated medical issues.

    Inmates at the Terrell and Stringfellow Units in Rosharon were moved Sunday morning to other prisons with available space.

    Highway 71 was closed at the Travis/Bastrop County Line due to water over the roadway, KXAN reported. Washington County saw 36 high water rescues Thursday and State Highway 36 and U.S. 290 became flooded and impassable, NWS reports.

    Wet Roads Cause Traffic Nightmares

    After State Highway 6 near the Lake Cisco dam in Eastland County was washed out by flood waters, officials were forced to shut down the roadway Thursday.

    Engineers spent Friday evaluating the washout, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

    Thursday a wreck on the northbound 610 East Loop on the Ship Channel Bridge in east Houston shut down multiple lanes of traffic, according to KHOU.

    A photo posted to social media showed a semi truck blocking multiple lanes and jamming traffic.

    The incident took place around 5 p.m. when a heavy thunderstorm began in Houston. Nearly 2 inches of rain was dropped in about 30 minutes.

    Kansas Boy Still Missing

    An 11-year-old boy is missing after falling into a creek on Friday night, the Wichita Eagle reports. He fell into the rushing waters of Gypsum Creek and was swept away as his friends tried to rescue him, Wichita Fire Battalion Chief John Turner said. Dozens of fire crews and policemen searched into the night until the waters of the creek receded too far for boats to enter it, and searches resumed on Saturday morning. Turner said it is now considered a body recovery mission.

    Several roads are closed in the area due to the flooding, the Kansas City Star reports.

    A tornado was reported in Wamego Thursday, and photos and videos of damage surfaced online.

    Trees were uprooted and cars were destroyed by the downed timbers, reports KSNT News. A tree also collapsed on top of a home.

    This is a developing story; please check back for frequent updates.

    1 of 119

    State Highway 6 in Eastland County, Texas, was washed out by floodwaters on June 2, 2016, effectively shutting down the roadway. Engineers with the Texas Department of Transportation were dispatched to the area the following day to assess the damage. (Twitter/Texas Department of Transportation Brownwood)

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