FORT HOOD, Texas (KXAN) — Four missing Fort Hood soldiers swept away in flood waters have been found dead, bringing the total to nine dead.
Major General John Uberti made the announcement Friday evening. The soldiers were riding in a Light Medium Tactical Vehicle when it overturned in at a tactical low water crossing on Thursday.
The identities of those killed will not be released until 24 hours after all next of kin has been notified. Fort Hood said the notification process has already begun and counseling will be made available to soldiers and families on post.
An Army combat readiness center from Alabama will be brought to Fort Hood to investigate the circumstances that led to the accident. Fort Hood says any changes to training methods could be made based on the recommendations that come from the investigation.
Major General John Uberti said the tragedy extends far beyond Fort Hood and support is already pouring in from across the state. More than 170 people took part in search and rescue operations since the accident and Uberti thanked them for their efforts.
Three soldiers who were saved from the water were released from the hospital Friday.
“Due to the quick actions of other soldiers who were training, we were able to save three soldiers,” said Uberti at a Friday morning press conference. A second vehicle of soldiers was nearby and helped save lives when they saw the incident happen.
Fort Hood Public Affairs said they were in the process of shutting down roads on post due to heavy rains and rapidly rising water along Owl Creek when the truck overturned.
“The soldiers were going on the vehicle and training on how to operate it,” said Public Affairs Officer Christopher Haug. “The range is wide and there are many possibilities. That road was not known to be or designated to be a dangerous low water crossing.”
Haug said soldiers and training operations regularly conduct operations in similar conditions. “They were in the proper place with what they were training. It is just an unfortunate accident that happened quickly.”
The search continued Friday downstream for the four missing soldiers. Bell County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Game Wardens and other agencies took part in the search along the creek just outside Fort Hood borders. Helicopters, boats, and canine units were used to search by air, water and land.
“The toughest decision to make is when you go from search and rescue to recovery,” said Lieutenant Donnie Adams with the Bell County Sheriff’s Office. “You have to sit down and look at all the facts and make a decision.”
Some of the search operations could be seen from Owl Creek Park, where the creek meets Belton Lake. Adams estimated the focus of the search was approximately five miles upstream. Both the creek and the lake were still significantly higher than normal on Friday.