A chartered train carrying Republican lawmakers to a retreat collided with a trash truck in Virginia Wednesday morning and left at least one person dead.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said there was one confirmed fatality and one person seriously injured.
“There are no serious injuries among members of Congress or their staff,” she said in a statement.
The victim’s identity was not immediately released, but President Donald Trump said Wednesday afternoon the driver of the truck was killed. A spokesperson for the Congressional Institute, which sponsors the retreat, said the person who died and a person who was critically injured were both in the truck.
The train was carrying House and Senate Republicans to the retreat in West Virginia when it hit the truck.
“We were on our way to West Virginia and it was a sudden impact, a loud noise and everyone was jolted,” Rep. Carlos Curbelo, of Florida, said on MSNBC.
Rep. Jason Lewis of Minnesota was taken to an area hospital for a reported concussion, but did not sustain a serious injury, according to a senior leadership source on the train.
A statement from Amtrak said the crash happened at 11:20 a.m. in Crozet, Virginia.
“Two Amtrak crew members and two passengers were transported to a local hospital with minor injuries. Local law enforcement is investigating the incident,” the statement said.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a Go-Team to the scene of the accident.
At around 1:15 p.m., the train had left Crozet and was heading back to a station in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake described feeling a “big impact” during the crash and then making his way to help one of the injured. He had been traveling with his wife and 18-year-old son in one of the front cars of the train.
“I knew there were going to be bad injuries, so I worked my way back thinking they might need people to help carry people to ambulances, and they did,” he said, calling the accident a “terrible scene.”
Flake said he saw there was one fatality, “who they worked on for quite a while while I was there and we were tending to the other injured person.”
Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy and Ohio Rep. Brad Wenstrup, both physicians, were among others who helped the injured, Flake said.
Flake said the front car of the train derailed during the crash and that the impact “smashed the truck pretty badly.”
Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, who was traveling with his wife, described the accident scene as “a mess,” with trash strewn up to 80 yards away.
“The truck is completely smashed,” Sessions told MSNBC.
The crossing where the crash occurred was equipped with flashing lights as well as gates on both sides of the track, sources told NBC News.
Texas Rep. Michael Burgess said on MSNBC shortly after that “both of the crossing arms were down” by the time he had exited the train and it did appear “the lights were functional.”
Several lawmakers tweeted about the incident and said they were uninjured.
“Our train heading to the GOP Retreat in West Virginia has been involved in an accident,” tweeted Sen. James Lankford, of Oklahoma. “I am safe but first responders are treating minor injuries on the train & treating the truck drivers.”
A post on Kansas Rep. Roger Marshall’s Twitter account said the “train hit a garbage truck, they’re asking for doctors on the trains to help.”
Marshall’s Twitter account later posted that the lawmaker performed CPR “on train conductor, and helped the two people in the garbage truck who are now in the ambulance. They are injured badly.”
Marshall, a licensed obstetrician, later told MSNBC that he first tried to help the deceased victim, but “couldn’t find a pulse, so we started CPR and worked on that person for several, several minutes and just didn’t go real well for that gentlemen we just could never get him resuscitated, I’m afraid.”
He added that at some point he and another lawmaker “decided we needed to focus all of our attention on the other person who at least had a pulse.”
He said the victim had suffered “major head trauma, internal trauma — it’s just too gruesome to even talk about.”
Ohio Rep. Brad Wenstrup, a doctor of podiatry, said it felt like the train “went over a boulder.”
He said he rushed off the train and saw one man from the truck who was able to stand and two others on the ground.
He tended to an injured man who had “a lot of blood coming from around his mouth and nose,” he said on MSNBC.
They worked to clear the unconscious man’s airway and make sure his mouth would not fill up with blood, he said. The man was breathing and they were able to get him to an ambulance, he said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan was on the train but was not injured, a source told NBC News. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was not on the train, a spokesperson said.
Ryan said on Twitter that the incident was “a terrible tragedy.”
The GOP retreat will proceed with an adjusted program, a spokesperson for the Congressional Institute said in the statement.
“The program will now include a moment of prayer for those involved in today’s incident and a security briefing from the Sergeant at Arms and United State Capitol Police,” the statement said.
Trump told reporters Wednesday afternoon that he had spoken with Ryan and that “they’re doing pretty good” after the crash, despite enduring a “tremendous jolt” en route to West Virginia.
“It was a pretty rough hit, that’s what they all tell me,” Trump said Wednesday afternoon. The remarks came at the beginning of an Oval Office meeting with American workers who have allegedly benefited from the recently passed GOP tax plan.
Trump said the driver of the truck died from the crash, calling it “very sad to see” and promising a “full report” once more details are known.
Trump will travel to West Virginia Thursday for a previously scheduled address at the GOP retreat.
Vice President Mike Pence tweeted that he was also getting regular updates on the crash.
“Praying for all involved & grateful for the swift action of first responders,” he said.
Pence is scheduled to address the retreat dinner Wednesday evening. As of now, there are no changes to that plan, a White House official said.