Train Carrying GOP Lawmakers Collides With Garbage Truck in Virginia

By Anna Edgerton, Kevin Cirilli and Billy House | January 31, 2018

An Amtrak train carrying Republican members of Congress to a party retreat struck a garbage truck outside Charlottesville, Virginia, on Wednesday.

One person on the truck died and at least one other was badly injured, according to White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona and Representative Gus Bilirakis of Florida. There were no serious injuries among the lawmakers and their staff, Sanders said.

House Speaker Paul Ryan was on the train and wasn’t hurt, a GOP aide said. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wasn’t on the train.

Representative French Hill of Arkansas said, “Everybody on the train is okay. It was a very sudden jolt to the train, but the train slowed down and is still on the track when it came to a stop.”

“There’s a lighted crossing guard where the train crosses,” Hill said. “The guardrails were down but the train hit the garbage truck.”

Republicans were heading to the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, for their annual planning retreat, a day after party members cheered for President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address in Washington.

Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods said in an email that the train “came into contact with a vehicle that was on the tracks at 11:20 a.m. in Crozet, Virginia.”

“There are no reported injuries to passengers or crew members,” Woods said. She said local law enforcement is investigating the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board is “gathering information” on the collision, the investigative agency said in a tweet. The NTSB will release additional information as it becomes available, it said. The safety board hasn’t announced it is opening a formal investigation yet.

Representative Bill Flores of Texas said some people on the truck were injured but all of the lawmakers on the train were all right as far as he knew. He said some lawmakers who are doctors got off the train to help people in the truck.

“I thought we derailed or something because we heard a huge crash, but then we saw the wreckage on the left side of the train because the train kept going,” Flores said.

Bilirakis said, “It was a real hard hit. I was sitting in my seat, but if I was standing up, I would not have been able to keep my balance.” He said he was told that buses were being sent for the train passengers.

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