The wife of one of the U.S. military veterans injured in a freak train accident in Texas Nov. 15 told NBC’s Matt Lauer Monday she initially feared for the worst.
“I saw my husband laying in a ball, and I thought he was dead,” said Heather Sanchez, whose husband, Sergeant 1st Class Richard Sanchez, was aboard the float that was jackknifed while crossing over railroad tracks. “He wasn’t moving, didn’t look like he was breathing. There was blood everywhere.”
Four people were killed in the accident and more than a dozen others, including Richard Sanchez, were injured. Richard Sanchez told Lauer he sustained a broken back in the crash and recounted the incident.
“One of the ladies behind us — we were in the front [of the float], they were towards the rear — yelled, ‘Train!’ Richard Sanchez said. “I just happened to look up and saw the crossing arms come down. Caught them kind of in the front of my chest and pushed her away.”
NBC News reported that, according to a timeline of the accident put together by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the float the couple was on went over the railroad crossing 12 seconds before impact, and 8 seconds after the warning lights and bells signaling a train’s approach sounded.
As the truck made its way over the tracks, the crossing arms were already coming down. The train operator allegedly did not hit his emergency brake until 5 seconds before colliding with the float.
Watch the Sanchez’s interview and an NBC News reenactment of the accident, as aired on The Today Show Monday morning, below.