WASHINGTON (AP/KXAN) — A train carrying dozens of Republican members of Congress to a strategy retreat in the countryside slammed into a garbage truck in rural Virginia on Wednesday, killing one person in the vehicle and sending several lawmaker-doctors rushing to help the injured.
No serious injuries were reported aboard the chartered Amtrak train, which set out from the nation’s capital with lawmakers, family members and staff for the luxury Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. At least two other people in the truck were reported seriously hurt.
The collision happened around 11:20 a.m. in Crozet, about 125 miles southwest of Washington, tearing the truck in two, crumpling the nose of the locomotive and scattering trash alongside the tracks.
Rep. Robert Pittenger of North Carolina said he was standing at the train’s refreshment stand, waiting to be served a soft drink, when he felt “an enormous slam. … It was a huge jolt. We all hung on to whatever we had.”
He said he looked out the window and saw a big pile of garbage, and it appeared the train had pushed the truck for a few hundred yards.
Authorities gave no details on the cause of the wreck, which took place at a crossing protected by gates, flashing lights, bells and warning signs. The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to investigate.
Rep. Bill Flores, R-Austin, confirms via a tweet that he and his wife were on the train. He says they are okay. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin; Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin; and Senator Ted Cruz both say they’re also okay. Several other Texas lawmakers who were going to the retreat decided to drive themselves, such as Blake Farenhold, R-Corpus Christi, and Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio.
Flores describes the impact as “sudden and violent.” In another tweet he said three to four people on the train were injured and one person in the garbage truck died at the scene.