A World War II-era tank claimed two innocent lives in an accident on Wednesday in Oregon.
The restored 1944 M-18 “Hellcat” tank destroyer was the scene of the deadly explosion as a round was fired from the tank’s gun. However, “the exact cause of the explosion is still under investigation,” said Sheriff Shane Nelson.
Officials stated that while one can own a tank in Oregon, permits are issued for the guns on the tank and not the actual tanks. Steven Todd Preston, 51, was the board director for the Military Vehicle Preservation Association, and understood the risks involved in operating such machinery. He was active in this hobby for 15 years prior, and very knowledgeable on the subject.
There was a video team on hand capturing the film, which was meant to be displayed next to the tank at a future exhibit, when something went terribly wrong. Austin Tyler Lee, 22 was the second victim of the tragedy.
A thorough investigation is underway at this point in time to figure out the cause of the tank accident.