U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper among GOP lawmakers on train that hit truck in Virginia
WASHINGTON (AP) — A chartered train carrying dozens of GOP lawmakers — including Rep. Gregg Harper and his wife — to a Republican policy retreat in West Virginia struck a garbage truck in a rural Virginia town today. No lawmakers or aides were reported injured, but the White House said one person was killed and another was seriously injured.
Harper, of Pearl, who represents Lincoln County in the Third Congressional district, tweeted: “Our train, in route to a Republican planning conference, hit a truck at a crossing in VA. The train stayed on the tracks. Hopefully there were no serious injuries on the train. Sidney and I are shaken but okay. Pleas pray for the 2 people in the truck and their families.”
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 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., 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 their trip to their retreat.
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