FORT HOOD, Texas - Officials say the last four missing Fort Hood soldiers are confirmed dead.
Fort Hood commanders were in the process of closing roads on the sprawling Army post in Central Texas when a truck carrying 12 soldiers overturned in a fast-flowing flooded creek during a training exercise, killing nine, officials said Friday.
The portion of road on the northern fringe of the post where the Light Medium Tactical Vehicle overturned Thursday hadn't been overrun by water during past floods, Fort Hood spokesman Chris Haug said. The vehicle resembles a flatbed truck with a walled bed and is used to carry troops.
He said during a news conference Friday that the soldiers were being trained on how to operate the 2 1/2-ton truck when it overturned along Owl Creek, about 70 miles north of Austin.
"It was a situation where the rain had come, the water was rising quickly and we were in the process, at the moment of the event, of closing the roads," Haug said.
Soldiers on training exercises regularly contend with high-water situations following heavy rains, he said.
"This was a tactical vehicle and at the time they were in a proper place for what they were training," Haug said. "It's just an unfortunate accident that occurred quickly."
The bodies of two soldiers were found late Thursday night. Three soldiers were found dead shortly after the vehicle overturned. Three others were hospitalized in stable condition after being rescued by personnel traveling in a separate vehicle. The remaining four soldiers were found dead Friday.
The Army has not yet released the names of the dead because it was still notifying relatives.
"This tragedy extends well beyond Fort Hood and the outpouring of support from the country is sincerely appreciated," Maj. Gen. John Uberti said.
Crews used helicopters, boats and heavy trucks to search the 20-mile creek, which winds through heavily wooded terrain. At Owl Creek Park, where the creek feeds into Lake Belton at the northeast edge of Fort Hood, the creek is normally 30 to 40 feet wide was swollen Friday to some 500 feet wide.
The 340-square-mile post, one of the nation's largest, 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.
After taking an aerial tour of flooded Southeast Texas counties Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott said the Fort Hood deaths show why drivers should stay out of high water and not go around barricades on flooded roads.
"I've heard stories of far too many people who think they are able to drive through water only to be washed away," Abbott said. "If that can happen to trained soldiers, it can also happen to untrained civilians. It demonstrates the need of everyone to understand the power of rising water and the danger it can pose to life."