A chartered Amtrak train carrying House and Senate Republicans to an annual retreat crashed with a garbage truck near Charlottesville, Virginia, Wednesday morning, killing one person and seriously injuring another.
According to various reports, the person killed was likely in or on the garbage truck at the time. There were no injuries among the members of Congress or their staff.
The Amtrak train was chartered by Republican lawmakers headed to West Virginia for their annual issues conference and retreat. House Speaker Paul Ryan, who was on the train with his family, called the accident a “terrible tragedy.” Other lawmakers said the harrowing accident threw everyone from their seats.
Initial reports say the garbage truck was on the tracks when it was hit at 11:20 a.m. in Crozet, Virginia, about 20 miles west of Charlottesville. According to NPR, the Amtrak train was returned to Charlottesville and the GOP lawmakers were bussed to their retreat at Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The event, which will focus on policy and strategy, will last three days and will include speeches by Mike Pence and Donald Trump.
According to NPR, Trump said he spoke with Speaker Ryan after the crash. “The train accident was a tough one, a tremendous jolt,” Trump told reporters. “We don’t have a full understanding yet as to what happened. But it was a train hitting a truck going at a pretty, pretty good speed. And we’ll have a full report as to what it looks like the driver of the truck was killed.”
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sent investigators to the crash site. According to NPR, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), tweeted that “there were three people in the truck that was straddling the track and which the train hit.” He indicated that those with the truck included the fatality, the serious injury, and one with minor injuries.
Additionally, three passengers and two Amtrak crew members were taken to a Charlottesville hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
According to CBS News, collisions between trains and motor vehicles at rail crossings have increased in recent years. “[A] Federal Railroad Administration report found that the increases were likely due to higher traffic volumes” with an average of 2,100 incidents per year from 2010 to 2014.