A train crashed into a parade float carrying US military veterans and their spouses in west Texas, killing four people and injuring 17, police and parade organisers said. Ten of those taken to hospital were in critical condition and seven others were listed as stable, said Midland police chief Price Robinson. Robinson said the Union Pacific train struck an open trailer carrying the veterans and their spouses as it was being pulled across the train tracks late on Thursday afternoon. “It’s hard to look at it. It’s a very tragic event, very unfortunate,” Robinson said, speaking from the accident scene. The float was carrying veterans through Midland to a banquet in their honour, said Sonny Cleere, an organiser of the Hunt for Heroes event in San Angelo, Texas. Hours after the accident, a float was still sitting near the train tracks, white poster board adorning the side and about a dozen empty chairs sitting on the trailer bed. The parade kicked off a weekend of events, including the banquet and a hunting expedition, to honour wounded veterans, Cleere said. Those events had now been cancelled. A Union Pacific spokesman said the National Transportation Safety Board was involved in the crash investigation, and referred all questions to that agency. A spokeswoman for the NTSB said investigators were on their way to the scene. Many of the 25 west Texas veterans being honoured served multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to biographies posted on a website created by event organisers. They were described as having been shot on the battlefield or wounded by improvised explosive devices. Some described suffering traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their deployments, the biographies said. The Pentagon said that Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, who is travelling in Asia, “was deeply saddened by news of the tragic accident” involving the veterans and their spouses. Tracy Scott, a Midland oilfield worker who did not witness the crash but arrived at the scene later, said the train did not derail, but continued to move roughly 800 metres past where the collision occurred before coming to a stop. A second flatbed truck carrying soldiers and spouses cleared the train tracks without being struck, police said. Some of those aboard the trailer that was hit managed to jump off before the collision. Authorities did not immediately release the names of those injured or killed.