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NTSB investigators will be at deadly Amtrak crash site for days

Garbage truck "just in pieces."


WASHINGTON – A National Transportation Safety Board spokesman said investigators will spend several days at the Virginia site of crash between a truck and a train that was carrying dozens of Republican congressmen.

Speaking at a news conference Wednesday night, NTSB spokesman Earl Weener said he doesn't expect the agency to release a probable cause of the deadly crash for several months.

Responding to reports from nearby residents that crossing equipment had been malfunctioning, Weener said signal experts would be looking at the safety of the crossing.

The train taking House Republicans from Washington to a retreat in West Virginia collided with the garbage truck in Crozet, Virginia, on Wednesday morning.

Officers were dispatched at 11:17 a.m. Wednesday about the incident at Lanetown and Marymart Farm roads.

Albemarle County police said crews discovered that an Amtrak train, originating from Washington, D.C., had come in contact with a trash truck on the train tracks.

Christopher Foley, 28, who was one of the two passengers of the trash truck, died from injuries suffered in the crash, police said. The other passenger was airlifted to the University of Virginia Medical Center with critical injuries, while the driver of the truck was taken by ground in serious condition.

Police said Amtrak is reporting that two crew members and two passengers of the train were taken to the medical center with minor injuries.

NTSB news conference

Hear the latest from the NTSB after today's deadly Amtrak crash

Posted by WSLS 10 / WSLS.com on Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Aides to Minnesota Rep. Jason Lewis say he's been discharged from a Virginia hospital after suffering a concussion when a train carrying House Republicans to a retreat struck a truck.

A tweet from Lewis' account late Wednesday said Lewis was heading for the retreat and planned to participate as much as he could as he recovers.

The train taking House Republicans from Washington to a retreat in West Virginia collided with the garbage truck in Crozet, Virginia, on Wednesday. One person in the truck was killed.

Fellow Minnesota Reps. Erik Paulsen and Tom Emmer were also on board the train. Both lawmakers say they were unhurt.


6:15 p.m.
    
A congressman who was on the train that hit a garbage truck in Virginia says the truck's driver was killed instantly.

Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe, who is a doctor, told reporters about the death Wednesday evening.

The White House earlier had confirmed one fatality and one serious injury after the chartered train carrying dozens of Republican lawmakers to a retreat in West Virginia hit the truck.

Texas Rep. Michael Burgess, also a doctor, described the accident near Crozet, Virginia, as a "scene you don't ever want to see."

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona says seeing lawmaker doctors tending to the injured reminded him of Rep. Steve Scalise's shooting at a GOP baseball practice last year.


As of 6:53 p.m., one patient is in critical condition, one patient is in good condition, three patients are being evaluated and one patient has been discharged. 


A man who lives near the railroad crossing where a train carrying Republican lawmakers struck a garbage truck says the crossing arms have not been working correctly.

Benny Layne said the truck landed on his property Wednesday after it collided with the Amtrak train near Crozet, Virginia.

Layne told The Associated Press that he has recently seen lines of cars stopped at the crossing, with the crossing arms lowered even though no train was approaching. He said motorists would get out of their cars to help guide other motorists around the malfunctioning arms so they could cross the tracks.

Layne says he has seen the arms stay down for hours. He also says he saw a man examining the crossing arms this week.

CSX Transportation owns the tracks where the crash occurred. Buckingham Branch Railroad leases the tracks and is responsible for maintenance, signaling and traffic dispatching on the line.

A spokeswoman for Buckingham said she was not aware of any problems with equipment at the crossing but referred questions to the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the crash.


The National Transportation Safety Board has launched a full go-team to investigate Wednesday's fatal grade-crossing crash involving an Amtrak passenger train and a truck.

Senior highway safety investigator Pete Kotowski has been designated as the investigator-in-charge and will lead a multi-disciplinary team with expertise in human performance, highway factors, survival factors, vehicle factors, truck operations, train operations and grade crossing signals.  The NTSB’s Office of Railroad, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Investigations and the Office of Research and Engineering are also sending investigators.


REACTION FROM LAWMAKERS IN THE WAKE OF DEADLY AMTRAK CRASH 

A total of six patients were transported to UVA Medical Center after Wednesday's train crash in Crozet.

One patient is in critical condition, four patients are being evaluated and one patient has been discharged. We expect to have an update this evening.


The railroad crossing where a train carrying Republican lawmakers struck a trash truck is equipped with two advance warning signs, two roadway gate arms, two mast-mounted flashing lights and a bell to warn of an approaching train.

Those details are included in a U.S. Department of Transportation Inventory Form dated Jan. 3 describing the warning system at the crossing near Crozet, Virginia.

According to the report, three freight trains pass through the intersection during the day and two at night, on average. The report says passenger trains don't go through very often - an average of less than one per day.

The maximum speed for trains crossing the intersection is 60 miles per hour.

One accident report filed by CSX Transportation in 1999 said a train hit a vehicle that was stuck between the rails at the crossing. No injuries were reported, but there was damage to the train's engine and the vehicle, which was driven by a 70-year-old woman who got out of her car before the train hit.    


President Donald Trump says he has spoken to House Speaker Paul Ryan after a train carrying Republican lawmakers to a retreat hit a truck on the tracks in Virginia.

The president says in the Oval Office that the lawmakers are "doing pretty good" and are "proceeding with their conference." Trump says he was told "it was a pretty rough hit."

The White House says one person was killed and another was seriously injured after the chartered train struck a garbage truck.

Trump is planning to address the Republican lawmakers Thursday at the conference at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.


Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee was injured Wednesday morning when a train taking Republican members of Congress to a retreat hit a garbage truck in Virginia.

The Tennessean reports that Fleischmann said in a phone call from the scene, where he was being treated for his injuries, that he was on his way to the restroom when the crash occurred. He said he was thrown around upon impact and suffered neck, back and foot injuries.

Fleischmann said he was in a "bit of shock" and significant pain.   


Staff members say Rep. Jason Lewis of Minnesota has been taken to a hospital after being injured in a train accident in Virginia.   

Members of his staff tweeted that the first-term congressman was being checked for a possible concussion after the Wednesday crash.

Officials say the train was carrying Republican lawmakers from Washington to a retreat in West Virginia when it hit a truck on the tracks near Crozet, Virginia.

The White House is confirming one fatality and one serious injury after the chartered train hit a garbage truck.


2 p.m.
    
Amtrak says two crew members and two passengers have been taken to a hospital with minor injuries after a train crash in Virginia.

Amtrak spokeswoman Beth K. Toll says the four were injured when the train hit a truck on the tracks Wednesday morning near Crozet, Virginia.

Police and a local hospital have given differing figures, but the reason for the discrepancies wasn't immediately clear.

The accident happened at an intersection that crosses the tracks at the top of a hill where visibility is limited. There is a train arm at the crossing.

photo

 1:55 p.m.

The organization that's hosting a retreat for congressional Republicans says the event will go on with an adjusted program in the wake of the train accident carrying participants to a West Virginia resort.

The Congressional Institute says the decision was made after consulting with Republican leaders.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says there are no serious injuries among members of Congress or congressional staff.


The U.S. Department of Transportation released this statement regarding the crash:

“The Federal Railroad Administration team is on its way to the site to respond to the incident and to offer support to the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation. There is one confirmed fatality and one serious injury. There are no serious injuries among members of Congress or their staff. 
 
We are grateful for the first responders and residents who rushed to the scene and offered assistance. USDOT is in regular contact with federal, state and local officials and will continue to offer support as needed.
 
 Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been affected by this incident.”


A congressman on the train involved in an accident on its way to a GOP retreat in West Virginia says three lawmakers who are doctors tended to crash victims. 

Rep. James Comer of Kentucky says the collision destroyed a garbage truck, leaving it "just in pieces."

Comer says Reps. Larry Bucshon of Indiana, Roger Marshall of Kansas and Brad Wenstrup of Ohio came to the aid of crash victims before emergency personnel - including a transport helicopter - arrived.

The train was en route to a conference at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, and hit the truck in Crozet, Virginia - which is near west of Charlottesville.

Comer says lawmakers, spouses, and aides had been on the train for about two hours when suddenly there was a crash. The impact made him jump out of his seat.


UPDATE 12:35 p.m.
    
The White House is confirming one fatality and one serious injury after a chartered train carrying Republican lawmakers to a retreat in West Virginia hit a garbage truck.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says there are no serious injuries among members of Congress or congressional staff.

Sanders says President Donald Trump has been fully briefed on the matter and is receiving regular updates.

The train carrying the lawmakers hit a garbage truck south of Charlottesville, Virginia.

Lawmakers are heading to their annual legislative retreat at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

 


UPDATE 12:25 p.m.

Jessica Twohey, spokeswoman for the Congressional Institute, said one person in the truck has died and another person in the truck is critically injured. 

One lawmaker has been sent to the hospital, according to Twohey. Another lawmaker and a staffer are being examined. 

Others are on the train are being offered minor first aid. 

The lawmakers were headed to the Greenbrier for a policy retreat. 

EARLIER VERSION 

A chartered train carrying dozens of GOP lawmakers to a Republican policy retreat in West Virginia struck a garbage truck in a rural Virginia town on Wednesday. No lawmakers or aides were reported injured, but the White House said one person was killed and another was seriously injured.

Lawmakers said the fatality appeared to be someone who was in the truck. One lawmaker who was aboard the train, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said the vehicle had been ripped in half and said he saw a person wrapped in tarp and said emergency workers appeared to be "putting a body away."

Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods says there were no reported injuries to passengers or crew members after the incident, which happened around 11:20 a.m. in Crozet, Virginia. Crozet is about 15 miles west of Charlottesville.

Cole said he felt "a tremendous jolt" when the accident occurred at about 11:15 a.m. EST, nearly two hours after it left Washington headed to the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. The policy retreat, an annual event, is scheduled to last three days and feature speeches from President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Cole said the train stopped quickly after impact. He said several GOP lawmakers who are doctors got off the train to assist, including Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, who was also at last June's shooting of Republicans at a baseball practice in nearby Alexandria, Virginia, and treated some of the victims.

Other doctor-lawmakers who helped included Reps. Michael Burgess, of Texas, Phil Roe of Tennessee, Larry Bucshon of Indiana, Roger Marshall of Kansas and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.

Cassidy later tweeted that there were three people on the truck and "one is dead."

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was on the train and was unhurt, aides said.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Donald Trump was briefed on the accident.

"There is one confirmed fatality and one serious injury," but no injuries to lawmakers or their staffs, she said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone that has been affected by this incident," Sanders said.

Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., said about 100 Republican lawmakers were on the train when the crash occurred, which made him jump out of his seat.

"I looked out the side of the window and then I could see a truck, just in pieces out the side of the window," Comer said. "It was a garbage truck that was apparently, I would assume, trying to cross the tracks."

Comer said Capitol Police quickly jumped off the train, but came back and asked for any doctors to help. Comer said U.S. Reps. and Brad Wenstrup — all medical doctors — rushed to help, including performing CPR on one person.

A GOP aide said the train seemed partially derailed.

It was not clear when lawmakers would resume the trip to their retreat.