U.S. Army teams and other emergency rescue crews are in a desperate search Friday for four soldiers still missing from a truck that was swept from a low-water crossing and overturned in a swollen creek at Fort Hood, killing at least five and injuring three.
Fort Hood spokesman Chris Haug said late Thursday that teams found the bodies of two more soldiers who had been in the vehicle. Three other soldiers were found dead shortly after the 2 1/2-ton truck overturned in Owl Creek during a morning training exercise on the Central Texas army post.
Three soldiers were rescued and were hospitalized in stable condition.
It was the third tragic incident of the day for the US military, after a Blue Angels fighter pilot was killed in a crash in Tennessee and the pilot of an Air Force jet participating in a Colorado graduation ceremony’s flyover was slightly injured after he ejected before the craft crashed in a field.
The Texas soldiers involved are from the Army’s famed 1st Cavalry Division, which is based at Fort Hood.
Aerial and ground crews scoured the 20-mile creek that stretches through heavily wooded terrain on the northern fringe of the base. Army aircraft, canine search teams, swift-water rescue watercraft and heavy trucks were being used in the search.
The Army has yet to release any of the names of the deceased soldiers because it was still notifying relatives.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the soldiers their families and the Fort Hood community,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement late Thursday.
“The brave men and women stationed at Fort Hood put their life on the line every day, be it through rescue operations or on the battlefield. Texas will forever remain grateful for their sacrifices,” Abbott said.
Fort Hood spokesman John Miller said the low-water crossing of the creek was flooded by two days of intermittent heavy rains when the swift water swept the truck from the road.
Maj. Gen. John C. Thomson II, the commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division, released a statement on Facebook late Thursday.
Fort Hood officials said another update isn’t expected to come until Friday morning, according to WFAA-TV.
Parts of Texas have been inundated with rain in the last week, and more than half of the state is under flood watches or warnings, including the counties near Fort Hood. At least six people died in floods last week in Central and Southeast Texas.
Across parts of Texas, many were keeping an eye on a new batch of storms that could dump up to 10 inches of rain from Thursday through Saturday and worsen flooding caused by waterways that have already risen to record levels.
The heaviest rainfall Thursday night was reported in LaPorte, on the western shore of Galveston Bay, where 4.36 inches of rain was recorded between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday.
Earlier, a storm system that moved through the Houston area Wednesday night and Thursday morning dumped nearly 8 inches of rain in some of the city’s northern suburbs, causing flooding in some neighborhoods. In Fort Bend County, southwest of Houston, about 1,400 homes have been affected by the Brazos River, swollen by heavy rainfall from last week.
Officials say levels in the Brazos have not dropped much and additional rainfall could make the flooding worse.
“With the rain that’s predicted, that’s not going to help things as that water has no place to go,” said Lt. Lowell Neinast, with the police department in Richmond, where more than 700 people have been evacuated.
Fort Bend County emergency management coordinator Jeff Braun said officials have worked to warn and prepare residents ahead of the additional rainfall.
More than 50 people are staying at shelters in Fort Bend County, one of the 31 counties included in a disaster declaration by Abbott. Braun said it could be at least a week before the flooding recedes and residents can go home.
This week’s storms are the latest in a string of torrential rains since May 2015 that have put swaths of the state underwater. Some areas now overwhelmed by water had run dry two years ago due to drought conditions.