A train carrying Republican members of Congress to their retreat at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV, has hit a truck, reports Nancy Cordes. The White House confirmed the report, and said in a statement that there is one known fatality and one serious injury. The lawmakers were scheduled to spend the next few days at the West Virginia resort for their annual issues conference.
The White House released a statement about the accident early Wednesday afternoon: “The President has been fully briefed on the situation in Virginia and is receiving regular updates. 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.”
The specially chartered Amtrak train departed Union Station in Washington, D.C. at about 8:30 a.m., and the train hit the back of a garbage truck at about 11:20 a.m. in Crozet, Virginia. The impact threw train passengers from their seats, but so far, lawmakers appear not to have sustained major injuries. Many are also traveling with their spouses and staff.
Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Arkansas, told CBSN in an interview that as far as he knows, “Everyone on the train is fine.” Westerman was still on the train during the interview. He thought the train was still operable.
Another lawmaker told CBSN that some members jumped from the train to offer help to the people in the truck who were injured.
Rep. Jeff Denham, R-California, tweeted a photo of damage to the front of the train.
Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-West Virginia issued the following statement:
“I am deeply sorry to hear that a life has been lost in the train accident Wednesday. My prayers are with that individual’s family, as well as those who were injured in this tragic accident. I was not a passenger on the train, as I had flown back to Charleston that morning to speak at the West Virginia Coal Symposium and then join Vice President Pence at an event. As we move forward with scheduled events, our hearts are heavy and our thoughts and prayers remain with those affected.”
President Trump is meeting with his national security team but is aware of the accident, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.
Amtrak released a statement on the incident that said the train “came into contact with a vehicle that was on the tracks at 11:20 a.m. in Crozet, Va. There are no reported injuries to passengers or crew members. Local law enforcement is investigating the incident and crews are inspecting equipment for damage.”
The front half of the truck was crushed in the accident. Congressman Steve Daines, R-Montana, tweeted from the train that he’s ok, but called for prayers for the drivers of the truck.
Highway and rail crossing incidents have increased in recent years. An Federal Railroad Administration report found that the increases were likely due to higher traffic volumes. According to a recent report from 2010-2014 there was an average of 2,100 incidents per year of these collisions between trains and vehicles.
Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to address the retreat this evening.