The bodies of the final four Fort Hood soldiers who were missing after their truck overturned in a flooded creek were found on Friday. The death toll in this tragic accident rose to nine soldiers. Three other soldiers were rescued shortly after the accident and have been released from the hospital.
In an all too familiar scene, an Army officer stood in front of the Fort Hood sign that proclaims the fort as “The Great Place” to announce the deaths of soldiers on the installation. Major General John Uberti, deputy commander of Fort Hood, was tapped with the responsibility of making the announcement that nine of his soldiers had died after their 2.5 ton Light Medium Tactical Vehicle overturned while crossing a flooded Owl Creek, the Associated Press reported Friday night.
“We’ve lost nine of our brave soldiers in this incident,” General Uberti told reporters during a press conference Friday afternoon. “We continue to care for the families and friends of our fallen comrades and our thoughts and our prayers are with the soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division.”
The truck, designed to forge creeks and shallow rivers, was being used in a training mission to teach soldiers how to operate the truck. “It was a situation where the rain had come, the water was rising quickly and we were in the process, at the moment of the event, of closing the roads,” Fort Hood spokesman Chris Haug told reporters.
A search for the missing soldiers was carried out beginning on Thursday and concluding on Friday when the four remaining bodies were discovered, Breitbart Texas previously reported.
The Army is conducting an investigation into the accident to see what can be learned to prevent further loss of life during training exercises of this type. “In this case, we see that there can be something learned in the way of future prevention,” Michael Negard, spokesman for the Army’s Combat Readiness Center, told reporters.
A report detailing evidence collected from the scene detailing environmental, human, and material factors leading to the accident is being compiled and will be presented to Army commanders, the AP reported. It will become public 90 days after that.
Tyler Broadway, another spokesman for Fort Hood, told the AP the twelve soldiers were on a convoy training exercise on a dirt road that runs alongside a paved road. The paved road had been closed due to a risk of flooding. A flash flood caused the 2 ½ ton troop carrier to overturn. Two of the deceased soldiers were found inside the truck, having been unable to escape. Hours later, three other bodies were found downstream. The other four deceased soldiers were not found until Friday. The accident occurred on Thursday.
Three soldiers were pulled from the rising creek and were transported to the base hospital. They were released from the hospital on Friday.
Commanders have discretion in deciding under what conditions soldiers can be placed in dangerous training exercises. A safety policy was added to the manuals in 2013 directing commanders to identify weak swimmers and provide water survival techniques. The AP stated it is not clear if that policy was followed or not in this incident. Broadway did not comment on whether they soldiers were wearing life vests or not. He also did not respond to questions about soldiers wearing packs that might weigh them down.
Chris Haug told reporters the road crossing Owl Creek was not known to have been overrun with water before the accident. He said soldiers “regularly pass through weather conditions like this.”
An investigation is also being conducted by the Army Criminal Investigation Division. Spokesman Christopher Grey confirmed there is no evidence of criminal activity. “The military is inherently dangerous business and training incidents do happen,” he concluded.