Train Carrying Republican Members Of Congress To Retreat Collides With Truck At Crossing

A train carrying Republican Congressmen and Senators, and their families, was involved in a crash in western Virginia.

A train carrying Republican members of Congress to a political retreat in West Virginia has collided with a truck:

An Amtrak train carrying Republican lawmakers to an annual party conference in West Virginia collided Wednesday with truck Wednesday. The extent of injuries was not immediately clear.

Members of Congress and the local NBC affiliate were reporting one person was killed and two people were injured. Amtrak said there were no injuries to those aboard the train, which originated in Washington.

The train was stopped near Crozet, Va. and was carrying members of the House and Senate, some of their spouses and children and aides, although it was not immediately clear which members are onboard.

“We appear to have hit a garbage truck,” said Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who was reached by telephone on board the train.

“It looks like it’s been maybe cut in half. We can see garbage strewn around and we can see the back half of the truck. There was a feeling of an impact and you could feel we had hit something. It took us maybe a quarter mile to stop.”

Lee said there are a few people “roughed up. Most of us hit a knee or a head on the seat in front of us but nothing too serious on board. I’m not sure about the driver of the truck yet.”

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) called the crash “loud and surprising. Some minor bumps and bruises in this car. We saw debris go by the left side of the train. The part of the truck we can see was decimated. Very relieved when the train came to a stop and still on the tracks.”

“It was a hard impact. It threw everybody up in the air a little. I don’t think anybody on the train is seriously injured, but I may be wrong,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)

Flake, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) joined medical personnel in carrying one of the injured passengers to an ambulance. Flake and Wenstrup did almost the exact same thing last summer in the shooting at a baseball field in Alexandria.

Flake and his 18-year old son are with him, but they are okay, he said.

More from The Hill:

A train carrying Republican lawmakers to their GOP retreat in West Virginia collided with a dump truck in the crossing grade on Wednesday, according to several GOP aides and lawmakers.

No major injuries have been reported on the train, which crashed in Crozet, Va., about 15 miles outside Charlottesville, but lawmakers said that at least one person who was in the truck had died while two others sustained injuries.

President Trump spoke to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) by phone and is receiving regular updates on the crash, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. Ryan was on the train but was not injured, according to his office.

“There is one confirmed fatality and one serious injury. There are no serious injuries among members of Congress or their staff. Senior Administration officials are in regular contact with Amtrak and state and local authorities. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone that has been affected by this incident,” Sanders said in a statement.

First responders were on the scene treating minor injuries on the train and treating more serious injuries on the ground, while some lawmakers who are also doctors raced to get off the train and help administer medical assistance.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said on CNN that there appeared to be at least one fatality on the truck, which was “close to demolished.”

“Stunning scene. Totally unexpected,” Cole said.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) described a “hard” collision and said he was “thankful the train was able to stay on the tracks.”

Some members on the train “hit the deck” upon impact, causing a ”couple of bumps and bruises,” according to aides.

Rep. Jason Lewis (R-Minn.), who was on the train, told Fox News that he had whiplash and possibly a minor concussion.

The impact “threw a lot of people’s heads into the seats … people who were in the aisle fell down. You have some minor injuries but as far as I am aware they were just that.”

Pictures from the scene show a crumpled truck lying on the ground with trash strewn everywhere. Several lawmakers took to Twitter following the crash to let the public know they were safe.

Amtrak said the chartered train departed Union Station in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday morning and crashed into another vehicle on the tracks about 11:20 a.m. in Crozet.

“There are no reported injuries to passengers or crew members. Local law enforcement is investigating the incident and crews are inspecting equipment for damage,” Amtrak said in a statement.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it has launched a go-team to investigate the crash.

Both House and Senate members were on the train, including some spouses, children and staff members, though it’s unclear how many. Zeldin said not everyone in the GOP conference was on the train, but “close to it.”

Additionally, several members of Congress provided updates on Twitter:

The collision took place west of Charlottesville in a rural area of Virginia and the train was still an hour or more away from its destination at the time the collision occurred. In addition to the members, the train was also carrying staffers along with family members of the Congressmen and Senators who were traveling to the retreat along with the members. From initial reports, there don’t appear to have been any serious injuries on the train, which was carrying Republican Congressmen and Senators to their retreat at the Greenbriar resort in West Virginia, beyond some possible minimal bruising. However, it appears that one or more people who were in the truck, which was either attempting to cross or stuck on the tracks for some reason, were seriously injured and taken from the scenes. CNN is reporting that buses are on the way to transport the Congressman or Senators but it’s unclear if the retreat will go forward as scheduled, or whether they will be headed back to Washington. At this time, it appears that the collision was an accident rather than being something deliberate.

The retreat was scheduled to last through the weekend, and both President Trump and Vice-President Pence, along with several cabinet members, were expected to address the members. Congressional and Senate Democrats are holding a similar event next week. At this point, though, it’s unclear if the retreat will be going forward or if the event will be canceled and rescheduled for some other time of the year.

FILED UNDER: Congress, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. James Joyner says:

    There are a lot of metaphors here–train derailed, Charlottesville, a garbage truck–that would be a lot funnier absent the tragedy.




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  2. CSK says:

    Apparently the truck driver has died.




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  3. Todd says:

    After I saw this headline I went to twitter to see if there was any newer info. Quick scan of posts in the #TrainCrash hashtag revealed a couple of inappropriate (especially considering there is a fatality) jokes. About 60+% of the posts were calling out “horrible liberals” for making said jokes. Then the other 39% were conservatives pointing out that this train crash couldn’t be a coincidence, because apparently liberals want to sabotage Republicans to stop the release of Nunes memo … or something like that.

    Gotta love the internet.




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  4. Stormy Dragon says:

    Suggested NY Daily News headline: Metaphorical train wreck cancelled by literal train wreck




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  5. grumpy realist says:

    First question–was there a signal warning at the crossing? Given the location, I suspect not….

    What a tragedy for the driver. His family must be distraught.




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  6. John Peabody says:

    Vehicles with inattentive drivers get hit by law-abiding trains literally every day in the US. This one just happens to be a passenger train with an unusual set of passengers that generate media interest. There is no likely news here, nor a conspiracy.




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  7. KM says:

    @Todd:

    J-E-N-O-S just tried that crap on the other thread, spouting the following BS:

    At this point, it does NOT appear to be another attempted mass assassination of Republican members of Congress, but it’s still early.

    Un-f^cking-believable. They’ve all truly gone nuts. It was clearly an accident, Republicans at the scene responded like it was an accident but their coo-coo followers are already spinning assassination theories like this is GOT.




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  8. Monala says:

    @KM: To be fair, there are liberals on Twitter acting badly about this incident, too, making jokes or expressing regret that Republicans weren’t killed.




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  9. Mister Bluster says:

    @grumpy realist:..was there a signal warning at the crossing?

    In the picture under the headline of Doug’s post on my laptop I can see a crossbuck with red flashing lights.
    This is the internet. I don’t know what you see.
    No way to tell if the signals were operational.




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  10. KM says:

    @Monala:
    Being a tasteless clod is de regueur nowadays but those liberals’ horrendous behavior is their own failings. Shame on them for being poor humans.

    No, what J-E-N-O-S and the others are doing is actively trying to start a new conspiracy theory and in this climate, it can and will grow. He’s not being thoughtless or cruel, he’s actively spreading a false narrative to spread damage and cause political strife. He knows damn well it was an accident – some idiot further down the line won’t. Think about the guy who took Pizzagate seriously for this will spin out of control.

    There’s a difference between being an asshat and manufacturing a false reality to blame an accident on your enemies. That it’s circulating already less than a few hours later means it’s not going away. Wait for someone to mention how it needs to be investigated to make sure it wasn’t “intentional” – smearing the dead driver’s name all for a cheap political shot.




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  11. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @KM:

    J-E-N-O-S just tried that crap on the other thread

    J-E-N-O-S was just regurgitating Alex Jones nonsense. J-E-N-O-S has never had an original thought in his life.




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  12. gVOR08 says:

    Jokes about dead Republicans are beyond the pale (unless really funny). But John Cole is entitled to point out the obvious metaphor:

    Republican train wreck on way to luxury resort hits truck killing blue collar worker while spilling garbage everywhere. That’s about an apt a summary of the past couple decades as anything.




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