Train Carrying GOP Congress Members Hits Garbage Truck, 1 Dead

1 dead in accident involving train carrying GOP members of Congress (Image courtesy of YouTube)
1 dead in accident involving train carrying GOP members of Congress (Image courtesy of YouTube)

By Daniella Silva and Tom Costello, NBC News

A chartered train carrying Republican lawmakers to a retreat collided with a trash truck in Virginia Wednesday morning and left at least one person dead.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said there was one confirmed fatality and one person seriously injured.

“There are no serious injuries among members of Congress or their staff,” she said in a statement.

The victim’s identity was not immediately released. A spokesperson for the Congressional Institute, which sponsors the retreat, said the person who died and a person who was critically injured were both in the truck.

(At least one person was reportedly killed when an Amtrak train carrying Republican lawmakers to a party conference collided with a garbage truck south of Charlottesville, Virginia. There were no immediate reports of serious injury among passengers. An investigation into the cause of the crash is under way. Courtesy of The Guardian and YouTube. Posted on Jan 31, 2018)

Rep. Carlos Curbelo
Rep. Carlos Curbelo

The train was carrying House and Senate Republicans to the retreat in West Virginia when it hit the truck.

“We were on our way to West Virginia and it was a sudden impact, a loud noise and everyone was jolted,” Rep. Carlos Curbelo, of Florida, said on MSNBC.

Rep. Jason Lewis of Minnesota was taken to an area hospital for a reported concussion, but did not sustain a serious injury, according to a senior leadership source on the train.

A statement from Amtrak said the crash happened at 11:20 a.m. in Crozet, Virginia.

“Two Amtrak crew members and two passengers were transported to a local hospital with minor injuries. Local law enforcement is investigating the incident,” the statement said.

(Associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center on what injuries to expect after train carrying Republican lawmakers collided with a truck. Courtesy of Fox News and YouTube. Posted on Jan 31, 2018)

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a Go-Team to the scene of the accident.

At around 1:15 p.m., the train had left Crozet and was heading back to a station in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake described feeling a “big impact” during the crash and then making his way to help one of the injured.

He had been traveling with his wife and 18-year-old son in one of the front cars of the train.

“I knew there were going to be bad injuries, so I worked my way back thinking they might need people to help carry people to ambulances, and they did,” he said, calling the accident a “terrible scene.”

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake

Flake said he saw there was one fatality, “who they worked on for quite a while while I was there and we were tending to the other injured person.”

Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy and Ohio Rep. Brad Wenstrup, both physicians, were among others who helped the injured, Flake said.

Flake said the front car of the train derailed during the crash and that the impact “smashed the truck pretty badly.”

Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, who was traveling with his wife, described the accident scene as “a mess,” with trash strewn up to 80 yards away.

“The truck is completely smashed,” Sessions told MSNBC.

The crossing where the crash occurred was equipped with flashing lights as well as gates on both sides of the track, sources told NBC News.

Texas Rep. Michael Burgess
Texas Rep. Michael Burgess

Texas Rep. Michael Burgess said on MSNBC shortly after that “both of the crossing arms were down” by the time he had exited the train and it did appear “the lights were functional.”

Several lawmakers tweeted about the incident and said they were uninjured.

“Our train heading to the GOP Retreat in West Virginia has been involved in an accident,” tweeted Sen. James Lankford, of Oklahoma.

“I am safe but first responders are treating minor injuries on the train & treating the truck drivers.”

Rep. Roger Marshall
Rep. Roger Marshall

A post on Kansas Rep. Roger Marshall’s Twitter account said the “train hit a garbage truck, they’re asking for doctors on the trains to help.”

Marshall’s Twitter account later posted that the lawmaker performed CPR “on train conductor, and helped the two people in the garbage truck who are now in the ambulance.”

“They are injured badly.”

Marshall, a licensed obstetrician, later told MSNBC that he first tried to help the deceased victim, but “couldn’t find a pulse, so we started CPR and worked on that person for several, several minutes and just didn’t go real well for that gentlemen we just could never get him resuscitated, I’m afraid.”

(CNBC reports on a dump truck colliding with a train carrying Republican lawmakers that killed one person and seriously injured another. Courtesy of CNBC and YouTube. Posted on Jan 31, 2018) 

He added that at some point he and another lawmaker “decided we needed to focus all of our attention on the other person who at least had a pulse.”

House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan
House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan

He said the victim had suffered “major head trauma, internal trauma — it’s just too gruesome to even talk about.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan was on the train but was not injured, a source told NBC News.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was not on the train, a spokesperson said.

Ryan said on Twitter that the incident was “a terrible tragedy.”

The GOP retreat will proceed with an adjusted program, a spokesperson for the Congressional Institute said in the statement.

“The program will now include a moment of prayer for those involved in today’s incident and a security briefing from the Sergeant at Arms and United State Capitol Police,” the statement said.

President Donald Trump spoke to and received an update on the incident from Ryan, and is continuing to be updated on the situation, press secretary Sanders said.

Vice President Mike Pence tweeted that he was also getting regular updates on the crash.

“Praying for all involved & grateful for the swift action of first responders,” he said.

Pence is scheduled to address the retreat dinner Wednesday evening. As of now, there are no changes to that plan, a White House official said.

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