Former Benton City Man in Train Crash

<p>Thomas and Kelli Pleyo</p>

Thomas and Kelli Pleyo

An Iraq war veteran who grew up in Benton City and his wife, are among those involved in that horrible train crash in Texas that killed four veterans and injured 17 others.

Sergeant Thomas Pleyo went to Ki-Be and Walla Walla High Schools.  He and his wife were riding in a Veterans parade yesterday when a train barreled into their float.

His mother, Kelly Harden, recieved a text message from her son yesterday afternoon; there had been a terrible accident.   "He said they'd been hit by a train.  They were in a parade and had been hit by a train; that he was okay, but, Kelli was injured.  He thought she was okay but wasn't sure."
The crash happened in Midland, Texas. 

A Veterans parade was just wrapping up when a flatbed float carrying two dozens disabled vets and their wives crossed a train track.  Sergeant Pleyo said on the phone today that what followed was a nightmare.  "The red crossing arms came down right on top of us and started pushing people out of their seats, then we leaned over and see this train barreling at us at 55 miles per hour," says Pleyo.

Witnesses say the impact was deafening as the Union Pacific train plowed into the parade float. Many of the dead and wounded were wheelchair bound vets who could not escape.

Sergeant Pleyo says in an instant he pushed his wife Kelli off the float, then jumped off the other side.  His parents and step mother flew to Texas from the Tri-Cities today to be with their son.  They say they are very proud of him, and relieved he and Kelli are okay.

Kelli Pleyo is hospitalized with back, neck and face injuries.