FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — Army teams and emergency crews searched early Friday for four Fort Hood soldiers missing after a truck overturned in a fast-flowing flooded creek during a training exercise at the sprawling Army base in Central Texas.
At least five soldiers died and three more were injured when 2 ½-ton truck overturned in Owl Creek Thursday morning.
Fort Hood spokesman Chris Haug said teams found the bodies of two soldiers who had been in the vehicle late Thursday night. Three others were found dead shortly after the overturned. Three soldiers were rescued and hospitalized in stable condition.
Haug said the search for the four missing servicemen continued Friday.
Aerial and ground crews were searching the 20-mile creek that winds 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.
The Army has not yet released the names of the dead because it is still notifying relatives.
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.
Fort Hood spokesman John Miller said the crossing was flooded by two days of intermittent heavy rains when the floodwaters swept the Light Medium Tactical Vehicle from the road. The vehicle resembles a flatbed truck with a walled bed and is used to carry troops.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement saying the state “stands ready to provide any assistance to Fort Hood as they deal with this tragedy.”
The base has seen fatal training accidents before. In November 2015, four soldiers were killed when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed during a training exercise. And in June 2007, a soldier who went missing for four days after a solo navigation exercise died from hyperthermia and dehydration while training in 90-degree heat.
Thursday’s accident came the same day the Navy said a pilot was killed when his Blue Angels fighter jet crashed near Nashville. Speaking in Singapore, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter expressed condolences to the families of those killed in both accidents and said once investigations are complete, the military will take actions designed to prevent such incidents in the future.
Also Thursday, the pilot of a U.S. Air Force Thunderbird ejected safely into a Colorado field, crashing the fighter jet moments after flying over a crowd watching President Barack Obama’s commencement address for Air Force cadets.
Across Texas, many were watching 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 already have 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.
A storm system overnight Wednesday dumped nearly 8 inches of rain on Houston’s northern suburbs, flooding 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 the Brazos has not dropped much and that 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 from their homes.
This week’s storms are the latest in a string of torrential rains since May 2015 that have put swaths of the state under water. Some areas now overwhelmed by water had run dry two years ago due to drought conditions.
Associated Press writers Terry Wallace in Dallas and Juan Lozano in Houston contributed to this report.