1 dead after Amtrak train carrying GOP lawmakers collides with truck in Virginia
CROZET, Va. (WSET) - A train carrying members of Congress to a legislative retreat in West Virginia collided with a truck just outside Charlottesville, Virginia, Wednesday.
The White House said one person died in the accident and one person was seriously injured. Albemarle County Police later said that a third person was hospitalized in critical condition.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone that has been affected by this incident," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., said she was on the train and heard that three people were in the truck. One of the truck's passenger's, 28-year-old Christopher Foley, of Louisa County, was identified as the man who died, police say. The truck's other passenger was airlifted with critical injuries and the driver was left in serious condition, according to authorities.
Several GOP lawmakers took to Twitter to say they were OK.
Amtrak issued a statement saying that the train came in contact with a vehicle that was on the tracks at 11:30 a.m. in Crozet, near Lanetown and Marymart Farm Roads.
Police have asked everyone to avoid the area as there are several road closures.
There are no reported injuries to passengers or crew members on board the train, Amtrak said.
According to the University of Virginia Health System, three patients were taken to UVA Medical Center and two others were taken to another facility.
Of those patients, the health system says one is in critical condition and the others are being evaluated.
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said he felt "a tremendous jolt" when the accident happened.
He said the train stopped quickly after impact. He said several GOP lawmakers who are doctors got off the train to assist, including Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, who was also at last June’s shooting of Republicans at a baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, and treated some of the victims.
Other doctor-lawmakers who helped include Reps. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, Phil Roe, R-Tenn., and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., according to The Associated Press.
Cole said the accident apparently occurred at or near a crossing because he could see railroad crossing gates and that lawmakers had not been told when they would resume their trip to their retreat.
Local law enforcement is investigating the incident and crews are inspecting equipment for damage.
Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods told The Associated Press there were no reported injuries to passengers or crew members after the incident.
Republican members of Congress were on their way to a retreat at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, that was supposed to go through Friday.
A spokesperson for the Congressional Institute said lawmakers will still go to The Greenbriar in West Virginia but will proceed with an adjusted program.
“After consultation with leadership in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, the retreat will proceed with an adjusted program. Our thoughts and prayers are with those impacted by [Wednesday's] incident.”
The spokesperson said the program will now include a moment of prayer for those involved in the accident and a security briefing from the Sergeant at Arms and United States Capitol Police.
Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to speak late Wednesday and President Donald Trump is set to address the event Thursday.
The train left Union Station in Washington earlier Wednesday.
Pence says he and President Trump are getting updates on the situation.
Pence tweeted he was praying for all involved and that he was "grateful for the swift action of first responders."
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., tweeted, saying the "incident was a terrible tragedy."
Ryan said he was grateful for the first responders who "rushed to the scene" and he is praying for the victims and their families.
Virginia GOP lawmakers Bob Goodlatte and Tom Garrett were not on the train.
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., said about 100 Republican lawmakers were on the train when the crash occurred.
“I looked out the side of the window and then I could see a truck, just in pieces out the side of the window,” Comer said. “It was a garbage truck that was apparently, I would assume, trying to cross the tracks.”
Comer said Capitol Police quickly jumped off the train, but came back and asked for any doctors to help. Comer said lawmakers performed CPR on one person.
Comer says lawmakers, spouses and aides had been on the train for about two hours when suddenly there was a crash. The impact made him jump out of his seat.
A GOP aide said the train seemed partially derailed.
The company that maintains signaling for the track also issued a statement regarding Wednesday's tragedy. They sent their condolences to everyone involved and explained their relationship to CSX.