AR GOP Reps All OK after Train-Truck Crash in VA


CROZET, Va. – Members of the Arkansas congressional delegation who were on board a chartered train carrying Republican lawmakers to a retreat are all reported okay after the train collided with a trash truck Wednesday morning, a congressman said.

Sen. John Boozman, Rep. French Hill, Rep. Steve Womack, Rep. Bruce Westerman and Rep. Rick Crawford were on the train that was carrying House and Senate Republicans to the retreat in West Virginia when it hit the truck. Sen. Tom Cotton was not on the train. [See their Twitter posts below].

Fox News reports the impact threw lawmakers from their seats and left at least one person dead. 

The truck may have been stuck on the tracks. There are mixed reports over whether the train actually derailed. 

Lawmakers on the train flooded social media with images of the wrecked truck, as well as damage to the crumpled front of the train. 

The nature or extent of injuries was also unclear. Amtrak said there were no reported injuries to passengers or crew members, though Rep. Pete Sessions said some members needed medical attention. 

Sessions, R-Texas, told Fox News there was one fatality, apparently involving those in the truck that was struck. Other injuries were described as minor. 

Amtrak released a brief statement saying the train “came into contact” with the vehicle. 

“There are no reported injuries to passengers or crew members. Local law enforcement is investigating the incident and crews are inspecting the equipment for damage,” Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods said in a statement. 

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was on the train but is fine, Fox News is told. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Wis., was not on the train. 

The accident took place in Crozet, Va., near Charlottesville, Va. Members were on a special chartered Amtrak train to the Greenbrier resort, where Vice President Pence was set to speak Wednesday night, with a planned appearance from President Trump on Thursday. 

The White House said Trump is “aware” of the accident, which comes one day after his State of the Union address. The retreat is where the party traditionally gathers to discuss their agenda and goals for the coming year. 

While injuries on the train were described as minor, Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., tweeted that he was helping the injured. 

“We are on our way to our annual GOP retreat, the train carrying members and spouses hit something. Laina and I are ok, I am helping those that are injured, I will have Laina keep you updated as I know more,” he tweeted. 

The most serious injuries appeared to involve those in the truck. One Politico reporter tweeted a picture of the wrecked truck and said the driver was getting medical attention. 

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., also posted a photo of the wreckage. 

In a phone interview from the train, North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker, described several helicopters in the air, saying there is also “lots of armed security” working to determine it was an accident and “there was no nefarious behavior.” 

“We don’t think that’s the case,” he told Fox News.

Walker said lawmakers are unsure how this will affect their plans for attending the retreat.

“Obviously, we don’t know what those plans are,” he said. “Don’t even know if the train is operable at this point.”

Story details from Fox News.

Twitter posts:
“Congressman Hill was traveling on the train to the GOP retreat. He has reported that he is safe and secure and has asked for prayers for the injured.” Rep. French Hill

“Grateful for my colleagues administering care, praying for those injured. I am fortunate enough to be safe.” Rep. Rick Crawford

“Our train heading to the GOP Retreat in West Virginia has been involved in an accident. I am safe, but praying for all involved.”Rep. Steve Womack

“I am on the train in Virginia. I am fine. No one on the train was injured, as far as I know. Please keep the three people on the truck (and their families) in your prayers.”Rep. Bruce Westerman

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