Officials: Lousia Co. man killed in Amtrak crash
CROZET, Va. (WSET) -- A train carrying members of Congress to a legislative retreat in West Virginia collided with a truck just outside of Charlottesville Wednesday.
The White House said one person died in the accident and one person was seriously injured.
According to the Albermale County Police Department, 28-year-old Christopher Foley of Louisa County died from the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board spokesman said in a press conference Wednesday night that investigators will spend several days at the site of the crash.
Spokesman Earl Weener said that he does not expect the NTSB to release a probable cause of the crash for several months.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone that has been affected by this incident," Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
Rep. Vicky Hartzler from Missouri said she was on the train and heard that three people were in the truck.
Lawmakers said the fatality appeared to be someone in the truck. One lawmaker aboard the train, Rep. Tom Cole, a Republican from Oklahoma, said the vehicle had been ripped in half. He said he saw a person wrapped in a tarp and said emergency workers appeared to be “putting a body away.”
According to the Associated Press, Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee said the truck's driver was killed instantly. Rep. Michael Burgess of Texas, who is a doctor, described the accident as a "scene you don't ever want to see."
Several GOP lawmakers took to Twitter to say that they were okay.
Amtrak issued a statement saying that the train came in contact with a vehicle that was on the tracks at 11:30 a.m. in Crozet near the Lanetown/Marymart Farm Roads.
Police have asked for everyone to avoid the area as there are several road closures.
There are no reported injuries to lawmakers on board the train, Amtrak said.
According to the University of Virginia Health Systems, six patients were taken to UVA Medical Center; one patient is in critical condition, four patients are being evaluated, and one patient has been discharged.
Two GOP lawmakers took to social media after the accident to say they were hurt during the crash.
According to Rep. Jason Lewis' Twitter, he was taken to the hospital with a concussion per standard protocol.
Aides to leis said he was discharged from the hospital.
Jason Lewis is a Minnesota House Representative.
Fwlloe Minnesota Reps. Erik Paulsen and Tom Emmer were also on board the train. Both lawmakers were not injured.
Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee said he was also injured in the crash. 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.
Amtrak said two crew members and two passengers were taken to the hospital with minor injuries after the crash.
Police and UVA Medical Center have given differing figures, but the reason for the discrepancies wasn’t immediately clear.
Rep. Cole said he felt “a tremendous jolt” when the accident happened.
He said the train stopped quickly after impact and that 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, R-Texas, Phil Roe, R-Tenn., and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La, according to The Associated Press.
Cole said the accident apparently occurred at or near a crossing because he could see railroad crossing gates and that lawmakers had not been told when they would resume their trip to their retreat.
Republican members of Congress were on their way for a retreat at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs in West Virginia that was supposed to go through Friday.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R- AZ) was also on board the train and compared it to the shooting in Alexandria when Rep. Scalise was shot.
A spokesperson for the Congressional Institute said lawmakers will still go to The Greenbriar in West Virginia, but will proceed with an adjusted program.
“After consultation with leadership in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, the retreat will proceed with an adjusted program. Our thoughts and prayers are with those impacted by [Wednesday's] incident.”
The spokesperson said the program will now include a moment of prayer for those involved in the accident and a security briefing from the Sergegant at Arms and United States Capitol Police.
Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to speak late Wednesday and President Donald Trump is set to address the event on Thursday.
The train left from Union Station in Washington earlier Wednesday.
Vice President Mike Pence says he and President Trump are getting updates on the situation.
Pence tweeted he was praying for all involved and that he was "grateful for the swift action of first responders."
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan tweeted, saying the "incident was a terrible tragedy."
Ryan said he was grateful for the first responders who "rushed to the scene" and he is praying for the victims and their families.
President Donald Trump said he has spoke to Ryan after the crash, saying lawmakers are “doing pretty good” and are “proceeding with their conference.”
Trump says he was told “it was a pretty rough hit.”
Virginia GOP lawmakers Bob Goodlatte and Tom Garrett were not on the train.
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 lawmakers performed CPR on one person.
Comer says lawmakers, spouses, and aides had been on the train for about two hours of their six hour journey when suddenly there was a crash. The impact made him jump out of his seat.
A GOP aide said the train seemed partially derailed.
The railroad crossing 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, but a man who lives near the railroad crossing says the crossing arms have not been working correctly.
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.
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.
Benny Layne said the truck landed on his property Wednesday after it collided with the Amtrak train.
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 Associated Press contributed to this article.