A chartered train carrying Republican members of the Congress hit a truck outside Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier on Wednesday, Bloomberg reported.
The Amtrak train carrying GOP lawmakers was heading to the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, for their annual planning retreat. The party retreat comes just a day after GOP members cheered for President Donald Trump’s during his first ever State of the Union address in Washington.
According to Business Insider, President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and members of the president’s cabinet were expected to join the congressional Republicans at the Greenbrier resort. The two-day retreat traditionally consists of a series of meetings concerning immigration, infrastructure, and foreign policy, as well as the upcoming midterm elections.
The specially chartered Amtrak train departed Union Station in Washington, D.C. at around 8:30 a.m., and has reportedly hit the back of a garbage truck at about 11:20 a.m. Wednesday, CBS News reported.
Bloomberg reported Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods confirming in an email that the train “came into contact with a vehicle that was on the tracks at 11:20 a.m. in Crozet, Virginia.”
“There are no reported injuries to passengers or crew members,” Woods said. She also added that local law enforcement is on the scene of the train crash investigating the accident and that immediate medical aid has been given to the passengers.
Representative Bill Flores of Texas told Bloomberg that he believes some people on the truck were injured, but all of the Republican lawmakers that were on the train were safe and sound as far as he knew. He also added that some GOP members who happened to be doctors got off the train to help people in the truck.
“I thought we derailed or something because we heard a huge crash, but then we saw the wreckage on the left side of the train because the train kept going,” Flores said.
“Thankfully it does appear that most people are OK here, some minor injuries,” Congressman Carlos Curbelo, of Florida, said to MSNBC. “We were on our way to West Virginia and it was a sudden impact, a loud noise and everyone was jolted,” he said.
Rep. John Faso, a New York Republican, told CNN that he was able to see the truck that hit the train and that he was told that the only injuries expected were from people in the truck, not the ones aboard the train.
“There was (what) looks like a tractor trailer carrying trash that was hit by the train,” Faso, who said he was in the third car of the train, said to CNN. “I think everyone on the train is OK,” Faso added. “I don’t know that for sure, it’s a long train. But most of the concern is for the people outside.”
Many of the Republican members of Congress were also traveling with their spouses and staff members. Among the lawmakers on the train were Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, Alabama Representative Bradley Byrne, and California’s Representative Jeff Denham. CNN also reported that House Speaker Paul Ryan was also aboard the chartered train. An aide to Mr.Ryan has reportedly confirmed he was on the train and is fine.
Arizona Senator Jeff Flake told the Washington Post that there were three passengers inside the garbage truck that hit the train, and that he helped carry one of the injured passengers to an ambulance that was on the scene of the crash. Senator Flake’s 18-year old son was also on the train with him, he said.
The White House released a statement about the train crash, confirming reports from multiple media sources.
“The President has been fully briefed on the situation in Virginia and is receiving regular updates. There is one confirmed fatality and one serious injury. There are no serious injuries among members of Congress or their staff. Senior Administration officials are in regular contact with Amtrak and state and local authorities. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone that has been affected by this incident,” CBS News reported.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that President Donald Trump is currently in a meeting with his national security team, but is aware of the accident.