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Neighbor: Crossing arms not working properly

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photo courtesy: NBC News photo courtesy: NBC News
WASHINGTON, DC (WVVA) -

5 p.m.

A man who lives near the railroad crossing where a train carrying Republican lawmakers struck a garbage truck says the crossing arms have not been working correctly.

Benny Layne said the truck landed on his property Wednesday after it collided with the Amtrak train near Crozet, Virginia.

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.

3:30 p.m.

The railroad crossing where a train carrying Republican lawmakers struck a trash truck 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.

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, Virginia.

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.

One accident report filed by CSX Transportation in 1999 said a train hit a vehicle that was stuck between the rails at the crossing. No injuries were reported, but there was damage to the train's engine and the vehicle, which was driven by a 70-year-old woman who got out of her car before the train hit.

3:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he has spoken to House Speaker Paul Ryan after a train carrying Republican lawmakers to a retreat hit a truck on the tracks in Virginia.

The president says in the Oval Office that the lawmakers are "doing pretty good" and are "proceeding with their conference." Trump says he was told "it was a pretty rough hit."

The White House says one person was killed and another was seriously injured after the chartered train struck a garbage truck.

Trump is planning to address the Republican lawmakers Thursday at the conference at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee was injured Wednesday morning when a train taking Republican members of Congress to a retreat hit a garbage truck in Virginia.

The Tennessean reports that Fleischmann said 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.


CROZET, VA. (AP) - A train carrying dozens of Republican members of Congress to a policy retreat in the countryside slammed into a garbage truck in rural Virginia on Wednesday, killing one person in the truck and sending several lawmaker-doctors rushing to help the injured.

No serious injuries were reported among those on the train, an Amtrak charter that set out from the nation's capital with lawmakers and staff for the luxury Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. At least two people in the truck were reported seriously hurt.

The collision took place around 11:20 a.m. in Crozet, about 125 miles southwest of Washington, tearing the truck in two, crumpling the nose of the locomotive and scattering trash alongside the tracks.

Authorities gave no details on the cause of the wreck, which took place at a crossing protected by gates, flashing lights, bells and warning signs. The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to investigate.

Rep. Tom Cole, a Republican from Oklahoma, said he felt "a tremendous jolt" nearly two hours into the trip, and the train stopped quickly.

Florida Rep. Neal Dunn, a former Army surgeon, said he and other lawmakers who are doctors joined other passengers who are nurses or paramedics and jumped out with the basic medical gear they had. They broke into three teams to help the injured people in the truck, he said.

"The first gentleman was somebody who had really, really, really devastating injuries. We did try to resuscitate, but ultimately you had to realize it wasn't possible," Dunn said. He said another man in the truck was critically injured and a third was seriously hurt.

Officials gave varying figures on the number hurt. But Amtrak said two crew members and three passengers were taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

Minnesota Rep. Jason Lewis' staff tweeted that the first-term congressman was among those taken to the hospital and was being checked for a concussion.

The policy retreat, an annual event, was scheduled to last three days and feature speeches from President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. By early afternoon, lawmakers were boarding buses to resume their trip, and Pence was still planning to address them later Wednesday.

Rep. James Comer of Kentucky said about 100 Republican lawmakers were on the train when the crash 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. He said Capitol police officers quickly jumped off the train but came back and asked for any doctors to help.

Other doctor-lawmakers who assisted included Reps. Michael Burgess, of Texas, Phil Roe of Tennessee, Larry Bucshon of Indiana and Roger Marshall of Kansas, and Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, according to those aboard.

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin was on the train and was unhurt, aides said.

By ALAN FRAM and HEIDI BROWN
Associated Press

___

Fram reported from Washington. AP reporters Denise Lavoie and Sarah Rankin in Richmond, Virginia; Adam Beam in Frankfort, Kentucky; Terry Spencer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and Andrew Taylor in Washington also contributed to this report.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


--Post by Paul Hess

An Amtrak train carrying members of Congress to a GOP conference at the Greenbrier Resort has collided with a garbage truck.

The accident happened Wednesday morning near Charlottesville, Virginia.

The Republican Representatives and Senators were on their way to a retreat in White Sulphur Springs. 

"An Amtrak train came into contact with a vehicle that was on the tracks at 11:20 a.m. in Crozet, Va," states Kimberly Woods, Amtrak Media Relations." There are no reported injuries to passengers or crew members. Local law enforcement is investigating the incident and crews are inspecting equipment for damage. The train originated in Washington, D.C. Updates will be provided as new information becomes available."

Our NBC affiliate in Charlottesville reports there is at least one fatality and one person in critical condition. Those two injuries were traveling in the truck. There are reports of injuries on the train. Rep. Jason Lewis of Minnesota has been taken to the hospital for a reported concussion. According to University of Virginia Medical Center, three patients have been taken to the hospital and two others are en route.

Buses have been sent to the crash site to take GOP members of Congress to the retreat in Greenbrier County.

"After consultation with leadership in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, the retreat will proceed with an adjusted program," says Jessica Towhey, spokesperson with the Congressional Institute. "Our thoughts and prayers are with those impacted by today’s incident." 

The program will include a moment of prayer for those involved in the crash and a security briefing from the Sergeant at Arms and U.S. Capitol Police.

President Donald Trump has been briefed on the situation, according to Dan Scavino, Jr., Director of Social Media at the White House. "On behalf of everyone at the White House, our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved in today's Virginia train accident," states Scavino.

The National Transportation and Safety Board has sent a "Go-Team" to the accident scene.

U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins was not on the train headed to the conference. 

U.S. Rep. Alex Mooney was on the train.

"There were some people standing, they have received some minor injuries," says Rep. Bradley Byne  (R-AL). "I personally was sitting, and just felt a very strong jolt, which shocked everybody, and then the train came to a pretty quick stop, and then we realized  that we had hit something. And then pretty quickly some people in the back of the train were able to tell us that it was a garbage truck. And then we learned, from one of the doctors, a member of Congress who went out there to help, that we have a least one  fatality, and another person very seriously injured."

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